InfoComm 2014 – The JimOnLight Tour!

I just combed through photos from the last six months, and I found a ton of photos from InfoComm 2014 as I walked the floor.  Check these out, we had a lot of fun at that show!  Well, except for the heat exhaustion/upper GI thing during that trip, but I guess that’s just the way she goes, as Ray would say.

Check out the virtual JimOnLight InfoComm 2014 photo tour below!
Click on any individual photo below to get the full-size David Fox badass lightbox!

HEADS UP – Lufthansa Pilots are Going On Strike April 2-4, 2014

damn-you-apple-maps

Heads up, ladies and gentlemen of the aluminum tube frequent flier variety.  Lufthansa pilots are going on strike starting tomorrow.  Check it out — they’ve now cancelled 3,800 flights due to the three-day walkout.  From the Lufthansa website:

Announced strike of the pilots union from April, 2nd – 4th, 2014

As a result of strike actions, which the German pilots union “Vereinigung Cockpit” (VC) has announced at Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo and Germanwings from Wednesday, April 2nd 2014, to Friday, April 4th 2014, Lufthansa will reduce its schedule significantly.

Flights of the Lufthansa Group Airlines Eurowings, Lufthansa CityLine, Air Dolomiti, Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines are excepted from the strikes and schedule adjustments.

Check currently cancelled flights under Cancelled flights.

Passengers flying with Germanwings (4U) will find all relevant information here: Latest news

Booking status / alternative travel options

Affected passengers please check the status of their booking prior to departure at My bookings.

Passengers travelling within Germany whose flights have been cancelled due to the strike may alternatively travel by train with Deutsche Bahn. To do this, please exchange your etix for a train ticket online or mobile at My bookings or at a Lufthansa check in machine.

Passengers, whose flights have been cancelled and their tickets have been purchased on LH.com, at a Lufthansa ticket counter or via phone at the Lufthansa Service Center may also refund their ticket via this e-mail form.

If your flight has been cancelled and you cannot use the self-service please contact one of ourService Centers toll-free

Germany +49 800 850 60 70
Great Britain +44 800 358 0538
France +33 805 98 0097
Spain +34 900 901 465
Italy +39 800 089 775
Russia +7 88003334265

or one of our local phone numbers.

Currently we are experiencing an exceptionally high volume of calls. In connection with that, a technical problem with the phone system of our Service Center occurred. This results in an increase in waiting times as well as individual terminations of calls through the system. We are doing all possible to work on a solution and apologise for the inconvenience.

Exception: All Germanwings flights operated by Eurowings are not affected by the strike.

Passengers holding a Lufthansa/SWISS/Austrian Airlines or Brussels Airlines ticket for flights on April 2nd – April 4th, 2014 from/to/via Germany, and whose flights are not cancelled, are also permitted torebook their flight once free of charge, provided that:

– the ticket was issued on/before March 28th, 2014
– the new travel date is on/before September 30th, 2014
– the original ticket class remains
– all other fare conditions are adhered to
Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions regarding flight disruptions can be found here.

Thanks to Peter Kirkup for this heads-up.

We Should Be Sick Of This Shit By Now – Thoughts on the Death of Sarah Jones

sarah-jones-service-poster

I have gotten two messages now asking me why I hadn’t commented on the death of Sarah Jones.  Sarah was the camera crewwoman struck by the train outside of Doctortown, Georgia on February 20 during the filming of Midnight Rider, and her death is opening up all kinds of those “oh, well holy shit, there weren’t permits” barrels of monkeys that you would assume would be opened when someone is tragically killed.

survivor-guillard

This is Joyce Gilliard, she was a hairdresser on the film.  She was almost killed in the train bridge, too.  She had her arm snapped in half by the train, and then fell onto some steel cables under the tressel.

Well folks, I have only one real answer to why.  It’s simple.  Researching death and disasters and accidents where people were ripped limb from limb or fell 100 feet onto a concrete floor or had thousands of pounds of rig fall on them from trim height at a fairthis kind of stuff makes me hurt inside.  I needed a break.  It sucks looking up these kinds of facts, learning about so-and-so-who-was-up-and-coming-in-their-field because the next time, it’s going to be another so-and-so-rising-star with a different name that will have an equally gut-wrenching, tear-pulling story.  This shit gets old, let me be the first to tell you.  Researching the disaster at the Indiana State Fair truly made me sob a few times, it’s hard to hear those stories and write those words.

Here is the part where I comment organizations like the Event Safety Alliance for doing what they do, which is trying to stop this nightmarish stuff from happening in the first place.

As a whole, we are an industry that waits until stuff gets really broken before we fix it, and usually the fix comes either after a death, series of deaths, or a majorly serious catastrophe like the Indiana State Fair disaster or the Radiohead stage collapse.  Suck it up, haters, it’s a fact.  Most industries are, ours is no different until we make it so.

Why is it though that people generally wait so long to act on potential items of aggravated disaster?  There are really too many questions that need answered here to be done in a human lifetime – why do companies who were previously denied access to film on a train bridge get caught filming on that bridge, ultimately causing deaths?  Why  Is it the cost of doing things safely?  You have to admit, we persist and thrive in a relatively dangerous environment with myriad variables all having a potential for a seriously negative outcome.  What we do in Entertainment can sometimes be one of the most potentially hazardous environments there is due to the nature of what we do and what we make — doesn’t that alone demand that we follow every procedure, every line item, every method possible, EVERY TIME to save the lives of our people, our brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives who make the stuff the producers and executives make shit tons of money selling?

Here’s what I know in my heart:  this stuff that we do, that we love, that we love to love and hate all at the same time — our work has ZERO worth when it has to be measured in the number of lives it took to make it.  Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to be concerned about your safety in this business.  I hope I’m not breaking the news to you now, but the people at the very top care about the money, not you.  There are more yous to do the job, ask any one of the thousands of unemployed entertainment techs out there.  Please though, remember that all of this is just entertainment, it’s just business.  When you get killed in an accident because you sacrificed yourself for the sake of the art, the people who paid for you to make the art are going to be sad for sure, but are still going to be sad all the way to the bank while they cash the checks you got for them with your life…

…and you won’t see a dime of that money because you’ll be dead.

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I’m sorry everybody, but I just don’t wanna write about this one.  This article is the authority on the subject so far that I have seen.

Ten Reasons Why It Sucks to Be Fat in the Lighting Industry

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Hello, friends and neighbors of light!  I hope this morning finds you happy and healthy, and brimming with enthusiasm to just go out there and kick today’s ass!

I write this post to talk about something that we don’t talk about frequently:  how our physical health affects our work in the lighting industries.  From Research Science and Photonics to Rock and Roll production, if you work in light and you have extra bacon around the midsection like me, you probably feel the pain that the surplus chub brings to the table.

I’ve struggled with my weight pretty much my entire adult life, and in 2014 I am going to win against the forces of fat.  Over the last three years, I have lost 80-something pounds of pizza from my belt line, and by the end of this year I plan to have gotten considerably closer to my goal weight of 200 pounds.   Usually when I need to overcome a challenge, I will collect information like someone with major OCD about that specific subject and then make a plan of action.  Right now, the plan is to talk about how being fat in lighting sucks in order to bring the subject to light, per se, wocka wocka.

Fozzie-bear-wocka-wocka-bitch

So getting on with it:  

  • do you have a few extra butter rolls sitting on your belt line?
  • Is your headset belt pack padded over top by a layer of old cheesecake?
  • Have a hard time not getting that second (or third) serving in the Craft Services line?
  • Does the container you carry your tools in fit inside the container you bring your lunch in?

Then you too can commiserate about this topic!  I’m sure there are many, many more I haven’t even considered or probably have forgotten about in my days, but here are ten things that BLOW about having extra bacon around the midsection in the lighting industry!

#10:  GIG BUTT/Chub Rub

freshballs

Come on, don’t pretend, you know exactly what the hell it is I’m talking about. Gig Butt happens when you’re outside, in the summer, loading in shows somewhere where it is hotter than hell, and you might not have showered in a day — not getting to shower every day happens on tour sometimes, ask anybody.  It’s when your thighs get red and irritated from your clothes and sweat and bacteria constantly rubbing together. It sucks the monkeys ass, And if you have worked and lighting, you have experienced this unpleasantness. However, when you’re fat, multiply this unpleasantness into something with a magnitude of volcano and fire/Brimstone, all that.  I lost enough weight at one point that I did an entire summer of shows, and the number of times I got gig assed was zero. Friends, it is totally worth losing weight simply for this single aspect.

#9:  Clothes Wear Out Faster

Frayed and torn old jeans

It might not seem like a very big deal, Or maybe something you don’t really think about, But when you have extra weight you actually put strain on your clothes as well.  And we people of size can really f*ck up some gear, can’t we people!  Big ol’ sweat salt rings around our collars; splitting the asses of our pants from time to time when they might catch a certain way when we’re kneeling down to straighten some cable or plug something into the desk; the random tear in a shirt that some of our chub caught on something as we walked by; all of these are symptoms of the condition of overweightitude.

#8:  Injuries

fat-guy-cannonball

You know, it’s not hard to understand why having extra weight can cause a fat body to get injured by doing normal tasks in the lighting industry — we perform all kinds of sometimes unbelievable tasks, from hanging lighting from a ladder to climbing up inside lighting truss at height.  For a person of normal size and in good health/in shape, these tasks aren’t usually much of a bother.  But if you’re a person of pie, like me, just the everyday average task can really screw up one’s will to live if you happen to come down wrong off of something, or extra weight just bounced you off of something in the way, which does happen, people.  Fat is just unpredictable!

#7:  Balance and Flexibility

Fat-Guy-NCSU-Dance

Let’s face it, lighting people – if you once were relatively thin, like I was once, things like climbing truss ladders and walking 20.5″ truss was a cake walk.  Now it’s really a cake walk, with me looking like the cake when I’m up somewhere off of level ground working.  It’s difficult sometimes when you carry extra weight to do the things that need to be done in the business simply because we no longer have great flexibility and balance like a person without some butt luggage to carry around everywhere we go.  Know what I’m saying?

#6:  Your Appearance (and Your Assumptions of Other People’s Assumptions of Your Appearance)

I_Beat_Anorexia_T-Shirt

Friends, it is an unfortunate truth of our industry that the better you look, the better you feel,And the better you are perceived in our business. Disagree with me if you want, that is completely within your rights. But whether you’re in FOH calling the shots or coiling feeder in Dimmer Beach,  the way you look can play hell on your psyche.  When you are a person “of size,” like me, you are constantly wondering if people perceive you a certain way.  It’s called human nature.  Our industry is absolutely chock full of people who not only take excellent care of themselves, but look like they take excellent care of themselves.  Sometimes not being one of those people in a crowd of those people can seriously play tricks on our fat subconscious.  Or, maybe you’re one of those people who could give not a crap about how they look and feel, and if so, more power to you.  I never learned that skill.

#5:  PPE Issues

fat-guy-speedo

People, let’s face it.  They do not make PPE (which means Personal Protective Equipment — harnesses, etc) in sizes above Thick Cut Bacon.  What does this mean for us people with extra bacon around the midsection?  it means that either A) you’re climbing that f*cking access ladder in a harness that looks like you’re baking bread with rope wrapped around it, or you’re simply just not going to where it is required to wear said PPE.  You catch-a my drift?

I remember watching an episode of The Biggest Loser a few years ago in which Bob put on a harness with something like 200 extra pounds on it to simulate the pressure of someone who weighed 400 pounds on the show.  It looked like he was strapped with 25 pound sand bags and rolls of socapex.  This is how I imagine the extra weight on our bodies to feel like when we’re carrying around coils of 4/0 or rolls of socapex.

#4:  Location Limitations

life-of-pie

Unfortunately, sometimes as a person with surplus love you just can’t go certain places that are required to work in lighting.  Sometimes this is up inside of the rig, sometimes this is inside of a theatre where you have to be Kate Hudson to fit anyway, and sometimes it’s just some cramped place you have to get to do something.  When you can’t see your feet, there are just places people like us won’t fit.

#3:  Exhaustion

draw-me

Let’s face it, people — being fat is absolutely effing exhausting.  When you double up the kinds of work that need to take place in our industry and add that to having a couple extra rolls around the midsection, the result is just purely crappy.  Being overweight and having to work the schedule that we often have to work here in lighting can just completely break your will to do anything, including move.  It’s a fact!

#2:  Working in Hot Climates

sweat-is-fat-crying

Ok, this is one I hate almost as much as #1…

Being fat and doing shows where it is hot S-U-C-K-S.  SUCKS. It sucks sucks sucks to be fat and be COVERED in sweat after doing something as stupidly easy as unstacking cases.  It sucks to have sweaty white salt rings around the collars, back, and armpits of your black t-shirt because Mother Nature decided you needed to load in on a 100 degree day into a convention center than doesn’t have the AC on until show time.  It sucks to be fat and be sweaty on a show site where your pants just stick to you like white on rice and a glass of milk on a paper plate in a snowstorm.  So generally, as a rule of thumb, HOT DAYS + FAT GUY + SWEATY EVERYTHING = SUCKS.

#1:  TRAVEL Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

fat-guy-on-a-plane

Now your mileage may vary on this one, but the number one thing that I despise about my size is traveling.  Economy seats are too small for people with wide asses.  Train seats in Economy are too small for people with wide asses.  If you’re still young and doing work where a handful of people travel in one car… well, as you can imagine, nothing good can come of stuffing one of us into a vehicle for long trips.  Being fat and traveling is like an exercise in patience — how long can I sit crammed in this seat with my knees halfway down my throat and my dough stuffed between each armrest, sweating, and miserable?

gave-up-jogging

Wish me luck, everybody.  If you too want to get less fat, shoot me an email, let’s do it together.  A single twig is weak, but a bundle of twigs is strong.

Sometimes Life Gets In the Way, But We’re Still Live!

dizzy-jim

Good morning and good day, JimOnLight readers!  It’s “o’ dark thirty” as my dad always says, and guess what?  I’m at an airport getting ready to fly somewhere for a gig!  Say it ain’t so!   I just had my 78th trip to Las Vegas for LDI since 2000…  it seems like just yesterday…  actually no it doesn’t, I’ve been to Vegas WAY too many times for anyone’s good!

You’ll have to pardon my long pause here on the site…  I have been adjusting to a new gig (which is awesome) and to having my wife out of the country while we work on immigration issues.  You’d think Canada and the US would have a little looser restrictions on bringing your loved one to the states when you’re married, right?  Wrong.  Immigration is the single most confusing thing I have ever dealt with in my entire life, and I’ve been divorced twice!  Wacka wacka!

I’m heading out to Los Angeles for the Concert Lighting Master Classes this week — I’ll be programming for Jeff Ravitz, which is WAY cool for me, I’ve been a fan of Jeff’s work for many years, and I’ve interviewed him before for the website.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m the Customer Engagement and Education Manager (and Lighting Designer!) for CHAUVET Professional down here in Sunrise, Florida — I came on board back in August 2013, and I’ve been working myself ridiculous for Berenice and Albert, who are amazing people with a drive that matches none other I’ve met.  It’s quite amazing to have a mentor like Berenice, she literally pushes her people to greatness.

In other news, I have a digital stalker!  Anyone have a good lawyer they can recommend?  Shit’s getting ugly.

Have an amazing day, everyone!  JimOnLight is back.  Sorry for the pause, sometimes life gets in the way.

Photos from Somewhere Above the Troposphere

Thunderheads over Georgia

Thunderheads over Georgia

I had a flight into the southeast last week for a job interview.  I can never get my 17″ Macbook open wide enough to do a damned thing with it when I’m sitting in Economy, and I don’t have an iPad anymore because I gifted it to someone.  What I DID have was my iPhone, some really rough storms and turbulence, and a whole lot of time on my hands on the four legs of the flights!

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Check out some cool photos I took of the flights into and out of the home of the Gators!  I hope you enjoy them!

Click on ANY image to start the JimOnLight.com Photo Gallery Lightbox!

(if you’re reading this, you know who you are, I want my iPad back, you do NOT deserve to have it.)

Oh My God, It’s July — and JimOnLight is Back!

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Hi everyone!  Oh, how I have missed you.

I’ve been on the hunt for a new job, and I am very proud to say that after almost five months of hell, I have been offered the most perfect job for a great lighting company in south Florida.

Perhaps even better news than that is that I accepted the position, and I start August 15!  I’m keeping the company under wraps for now, mostly because I am continuing my lifelong research and writing obsession with light and the lighting industries through JimOnLight, and I want to maintain my integrity as a researcher and writer.  But let me just say this — a position has been created for me that I am honored to accept, and I am excited to get back to work — this time for a company and a boss who will treat me like a human being.  How exciting is THAT?!

My experiences over the last almost five months have been intense to the point of Albert Camus’ worst nightmares – doors that I thought would be wide open I found locked tighter than Fort Knox, while other doors that I assumed would be deadbolted swung wide open and welcomed my big bald head with open arms.  If there is anything I have learned from this experience since March is that you never really know who your real friends are, even those you’ve supported at every turn, until you need a friend in return.  It’s literally made me change my entire philosophy of life and work.  On one hand I’m pretty thrilled to change philosophy, but on the other hand I’m pretty bummed to see that the majority of the people for whom I’ve done lots of work were just as quick to turn their backs as someone I never met before.  Ce la vie.  

you-are-out

“You’re out, smartass. Hit the dugout.”

One thing is definite for all of you out there still in the situation I just got lucky enough to slide out of — you have to hold onto hope, you have to hold tight, and you have to beat the pavement in order to make something happen.  Finding a job in this economy is no small feat, and it’s no small victory once you’ve found a way out of the mire.  Let me be the first to tell you that sometimes the shit can get dark.  It is hard to exist when you have no money.  It’s hard to get by when all of the laws are written to help those who can help themselves but live on the system, I know this for a fact.

I’ve had lots of time to think about what to say to help those lighting industry folks who are down and out, and are losing hope:

  • Get used to the fact that your life needs to be different (read that as cheaper) until you get steady money coming in again.  Life’s not over, it’s just stalled out a bit.
  • HANG IN THERE.  This crap will change if you keep doing what you’re doing, which hopefully is making the calls to everyone and anyone you know, letting them know that you’re looking for something.
  • JOB SEARCH RESOURCES — Check it out, nothing hurts when you’re without a job!
  • Tune up that resume — put a call on Facebook to some of us out there, any number of us would be more than happy to help a fellow industry member by taking two minutes to look over your resume.
  • Do you have a savings account?  GET ONE.  Are you sticking a decent portion of your take-home after bills in that savings account?  If you answered anything other than “you bet your bottom dollar I am,” START SAVING.  Save ANYTHING YOU CAN.  it will help down the line.
  • Expect some percentage of rejection and disappointment.  Sorry folks, but it’s true.  When you send out resumes and portfolios en masse, you’re going to experience a good portion of “no, sorry” responses.  It happens.  It just means that its time to get out there and keep pushing.
  • If you have family, see what they can do for you.  You might need to suck it up and move home for a bit (hey, I did it, I can never thank my Dad enough for what he’s done for my wife and I, he literally saved us) until you can get back on your feet.
  • If you have friends, see if they can help you out.  Suck it up if you’re destitute, your pride isn’t doing anything but screwing you up.
  • If you have “habits,” like drinking or smoking, guess what?  YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT RIGHT NOW.  You also can’t afford to be eating out all the time, either — it’s time to get used to bologna and ramen for a bit.  The stuff isn’t all that bad, believe me.  It’s way better than fucking starving.
  • If you have a wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, whatever — MAKE TIME TO SPEND WITH THEM.  QUALITY time.  Spend time with them where you’re not looking at your phone searching for jobs, and get used to dumping the shit out of your brain so that you can also be a good partner.  I cannot stress this to you enough — being unemployed and broke is EXPONENTIALLY WORSE when you have to fight all the time with your loved one.  Also, it costs nothing to walk around the park holding hands and talking about things.
  • I said this before, but HANG IN THERE!  This WILL get better.  It might take a month, two months, or twelve months.  It does happen.  It just might be a while.  It was for me, anyway.

If you need a pick-me-up, drop me a line.  I’d be glad to do what I can for you.  I have great jokes.  Sometimes all it takes is a smile on your face to greatly improve your day when you’re out of work.

hang-in-there

 

 

Are You an Out-of-Work Entertainment Professional? Be Wary of Wal-Mart Pharmacy – Please SHARE

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Are you an out-of-work Entertainment professional with no insurance right now?

If you answered yes to that question, you’re like me and tens of thousands of other people depending on cash for their maintenance meds every month.

Wal-Mart Pharmacy across America is known for having $4 prescriptions for many popular prescription drugs, and for many people, this is a necessity.  For people who depend on places like this in order to live, being able to buy their meds AND anything else they might need in order to live (you know, like auto insurance, food, OTC meds when you can’t afford to see your doctor, etcetera), having to pay only four bucks for drugs is a serious plus!

Well…  I have to tell you a story.

I’m one of those Entertainment pros without a job or insurance right now, so I’m paying out of pocket for my meds.  I went to the Wal-Mart pharmacy in East Peoria, IL last week to pick up two scripts written for me by my doc, and one of the drugs I’m on is supposed to be on the Wal-Mart list for low-cost drugs for people without insurance.  The woman manning the pharmacy – the non-Pharmacist tech, looked me right in the eyes and said “that’ll be $800.39, please.”  Unbelievably, I had no choice but to pay that $800 out of pocket.  We asked the woman to check again on the price, and both the pharmacy tech AND the pharmacist then took my $800.39 for the one drug.  It wasn’t some kind of cancer drug or an experimental drug not covered anywhere, either.  It’s a standard drug that a whole hell of a lot of people need.

Literally one week later, I saw an advertisement for Schnook’s Pharmacy, a drugstore in a grocery store in Peoria, IL, that was advertising my specific drug for $89.75.  I called that pharmacy and asked about my specific medication, and they confirmed that yep, it’s $89.75.  As you can assume, I called the Wal-Mart pharmacy directly after, asking them why a similar pharmacy in town had my drug for $89.75 instead of Wal-Mart’s price of $800.39.  The pharmacist put me on hold, and after five minutes came back and told me that I should come in for a full refund of that cost, as they had that medicine listed for $80.39, not $800.39.  But, I got the excuse that “Wal-Mart corporate sets the prices, we don’t.”  That sure didn’t stop them from pocketing my $800 bucks.

When my dad and I went over to the pharmacy and asked the supervisor of the pharmacy what they would have done had we not come back in for that refund of over $700, she confirmed that yes, Wal-Mart corporate sets the prices, and yes, they would have not corrected the cost difference and pocketed the difference.  The actual conversation, verbatim, went like this while waiting for a Customer Service manager to give us the refund:

My dad:  “So, what would have happened were we not to have come checking on this?  Would you guys have just pocketed the difference and that’s that?”

East Peoria Wal-Mart Pharmacy manager:  “Yep.  We would have.”

This is unbelievable to me, at least.  If you’re off insurance and in need of your meds, please make sure you price check in your town to see that you’re not getting Wal-Marted on your drugs.

I posted this to the Wal-Mart Facebook page, and it never made the public light of day.  Anyone surprised?

Pink Floyd’s Lighting Designer, Arthur Max, Has A Bad Day on Headset – in 1973

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It’s the day before Independence Day off here in the USA.

There is nothing you’re doing right now that can’t wait for 11 minutes while you watch Arthur Max at the office while working a 1973 Pink Floyd show in Detroit — the venue ruled that Pink Floyd had to use the Union spot ops from the venue instead of the Pink Floyd crew, and with some animation, this is one of the best things you’ll see today!  Thanks to Cliff Port, a fan filmmaker that really got a good belly laugh out of me today!

You know who Arthur Max is, right?  He’s a production designer and artist who does a ton of movies now, but lit Floyd back in the day along with working for Bill Graham at the Filmore East.  From IMDB:

A native New Yorker who worked as a Stage Lighting Designer in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the music industry, and then, after studying architecture in England and Italy, went on to do several architectural design projects in London. He entered British film as an assistant to several British Production Designers in the mid-1980s. First for Stuart Craig on Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and Cal (both 1984) and then for Ashetton Gorton on Revolution (1985). His Production Design career began withTV commercials during the years 1985-1995 for many different Directors, including Ridley Scott and David Fincher, with whom he would go on to collaborate on feature films.

This is so awesome, I think I may just watch it again.

HUGE thanks to Simone Kay’s YouTube channel!