A Guide to First Night Microphone Setup for Musical Theatre

By Scott Johnson.

1. Neutralize all console controls, because the last guy never, ever zeroes the console properly. Even when the last guy was YOU.

2. Choose a test subject. Ideally this should be the director in row five, but there is no need to be particular here. If no expendable test subjects are available, use of the lighting designer is permissible.

3. Identify the actor who just stepped onstage for mic check. Greet him or her in a friendly manner.

4. CORRECTLY identify the actor and apologize, repeat step 3 using the correct name.

5. Arrange the equalization controls on the channel into a visually pleasing and eye-catching pattern. Raise the fader to unity, or trinity, or solidarity, or any other convenient position. Unmute the channel.

6. Note that you cannot hear the actor at all. Ask the A2 to turn on the actor’s microphone pack. At this point it is also a good idea to ensure the actor is wearing a microphone, but this is entirely optional.

7. Increase microphone gain slowly until feedback is achieved. Note the level and reduce slightly until the actresses stop screaming. Think of Jimi Hendrix and take a moment to feel like a real rockstar.

8. Ask the actor to sing typical material from the show.

9. Remind the actor that this is a musical, not The Voice, and repeat step 8.

10. Observe the test subject. Note that he is holding his hands over his ears and is probably also rocking in his seat and moaning. If he is not, do not panic. You have chosen a deaf test subject. Choose again, being careful to avoid drummers, electric guitarists. and judges on The Voice.

11. Rapidly and randomly rearrange the equalization controls on the console channel until the subject’s moaning diminishes, rocking ceases, and hands drop. If your test subject loses consciousness or his ears bleed, reduce the channel gain very slightly.

12. Repeat step 11 until the test subject sits comfortably and does not appear visibly distressed, or in the case of a director, any more distressed than usual.

11. Thank the actor, close the channel, and resume at step 3. Continue this process until all microphones have been checked or your beard has grown one inch, whichever comes first, then report “mic checks complete” to the director.

A what now?

After reading the system requirements printed on this Arris/Motorola SurfBoard 6141 modem box, I’m legitimately not sure if I’m looking at Chinese fakes or not. Then again… Arris… Not a brand known for getting anything right. And this is Walmart.


Okay I’m done here

That's a penis.

That’s quite enough staring at Tropical Storm Erika, but before I go, one last thing:

Or should I say one last SCHWING?


Seriously, it’s the frank…. and beans.

Kid plague, or the evil orange throat degreaser


The germs that tend to be carried into the workplace got to me and left me feeling pretty sick today. I needed some cough syrup and decongestant to stop an evil cough, so I rode a freshly decorated Metromover car down to Publix and picked up some supplies.

One of these is orange. One of these is a fresh and hard to describe hell.

First, the orange juice. It had a good flavor despite being deoxygenated and reflavored for bottling. It comes out very much like fresh squeezed, with some pulp (don’t forget to shake).

It’s from conventionally grown oranges but comes out fine, I’m pickier about produce being organic on things that don’t have a thick peel that keeps the chemical stew from noticeably absorbing in.

But speaking of chemical stew…

The cough syrup. Oh boy. Where to start.

Opening the bottle revealed a pleasant note of candy canes. So okay, it’s mentholated, but… Bright orange? I knew this wasn’t gonna be the best thing I’d ever tasted, but nothing could prepare me for the 30 milliliters of wack that awaited.

The first thing I noticed was the glaring fake orange flavor. I mean candy like fake orange, like the flavor package they add to Tropicana orange juice… Horribly, questionably, ridiculously bizarre. It’s like oranges in a bad fever dream. I figured, okay, if that’s the worst of it…..

… It wasn’t.

As I ascended the escalator to the Metromover platform, the menthol came back as a burning, infuriating aftertaste that combined with the fake orange, made me shudder. Sure I could feel a pleasant coolness in my irritated throat and sinuses but my taste buds were not happy.

It was like excessively orange Gatorade powder stirred into mint mouthwash and inadvertently chugged at 4 in the morning. It was awful. Upon seeing a fire extinguisher on the wall, I *fondly* remembered the unpleasant salty chalk flavor that you get on your palate after walking into a room where there’s monoammonium phosphate and talc powder hanging in the air from someone discharging a type ABC dry chemical extinguisher. That taste in my memory was preferable.

A train dribbled in there, abruptly hitting the end of its program stop a little too hot and thudding to a stop. I got aboard and inadvertently stepped into another passenger’s basket of tennis balls, each monogrammed with his initials. I tried to apologize but just gagged.

At the next station I all but fell out of the Bombardier CX-100 in a coughing fit and spit a ball of neon orange gunk into the trash can. I don’t know if this was the intent and design of this evil liquid but all the gunk had been purged from my nose, throat, and probably gray matter as well. It worked, in mere minutes. Took my mind right off the cold or whatever it is.

I’m not looking forward to another dose in four hours. 😉

Your Sunday horror: The 1960s Gelatine Plague

There really should have been a 72 hour waiting period for purchases of unflavored gelatine so we could stop and think about the horror we were about to unleash
There really should have been a 72 hour waiting period for purchases of unflavored gelatine so we could stop and think about the horror we were about to unleash

It was a far different time. A time before people posting pictures of their food on Instagram, a time when America was running in the space race and everything had to look all cool and futuristic….. and all our recipes had to involve locking our food in Carbonite. But since Carbonite preservation wasn’t entirely ready for prime time yet, we settled instead for bricking it in gelatine.


Everything was sealed in gelatine.

Desserts, salads, meats, you could grab the edge of the table and shake it and make your whole dinner quiver.

Clearly, we failed to learn from past mistakes.

At least, this is the mental picture I’m getting from things like the infamous old Betty Crocker recipe cards. Please prepare yourself, the page linked mentions something called “Prune Whip”. Just so you know what you’re getting yourself into.

This post was inspired by seeing a picture of a MODERN creation that’s been floating around on Pinterest and Facebook – a Spaghetti-O’s jello molded doughnut of sadness covered in Vienna sausages. Like the bright red and mottled appearance of the fly agaric Amanita muscaria, this is a warning that you may not be happy if you eat it.

Also, would this thing get you in trouble on Metrorail? If I saw someone bring one of these things proudly aboard the train I’d probably exit at the next station and run for dear life, in fear that the gelatine plague could spread to me next and cause me to start entombing Mediterranean salads in gelatine.

Excuse me while I go write my congressperson a letter in favor of gelatine abuse prevention programs.


Who needs the American Dream’s indoor ski slope?

We’ve got your crazy thrill ride right here.


It’s become a big game of chance lately as to whether the Metromover will make this ramp and turnout successfully. Failures are spectacular when they happen; the train either shorts out power with a big loud, bright arc, screeches to an abrupt halt, politely comes to a complete stop and sits there in front of the maintenance facility, or goes dark and free falls down the ramp for a few seconds before being slammed to a halt by the spring loaded parking brakes setting.

There is talk about charging passengers a fare to ride Metromover again, but personally I think all they need is this magical phrase heard on many thrill rides everywhere: “Exit through the gift shop“.

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