Wednesday, October 11, 2006

How to tell when the film industry is way busy:

When rental houses start sending out really old equipment that normally sits on the shelves and gathers dust.

This is a lug connector:

Lug End

Since lug ends can't be connected directly together, they're clamped onto a bus bar (a big metal plate made of copper, because that's one of the better electrical conductors) which is inside a distro (or spider - they're similar, only the distro box has outlets so you can plug things into it and the spider box doesn't) box:

Distro box

Since the copper's 'hot', there's a leeetle platic shield over it (with holes on top so you can reach and tighten the set screw that's on the top part of the connector and holes on the side to stick the cable into - it's worth noting that the hole which one shoves the cable through isn't much bigger than the cable end. Normally not a big deal, but just try it when you've been awake for 18 hours), which, although it looks pretty flimsy, is surprisingly strong.

This requires a special tool - the T-Handle:

T handle

The method for connecting lug end cable is to slip the open end of the lug over the bus bar (it just fits), positioning it under the hole in the plastic. Then, stick the end of the metal shaft of the T-handle into the little hole in the set screw on the lug and turn until the whole mess is tight enough not to move around.

Do you see the flaw in this system? Once the cable is energized (and the type of cable, 4/0, carries 400 amps per hot leg, and we usually run three hot legs - that's more "juice" than I have in my entire house) things can still get to the copper through the holes in the plastic. Rainwater, spilled coffee, pee (there's a rumor that the original dog who played Spuds MacKenzie died when it peed on an energized distro box - the power traveled up the urine stream and cooked the poor doggie. According to Wikipedia it's not true after all, but the story's been going around since I've been in the biz).

Lug connectors were industry standard for many years, but nowadays most shows use a type of connector called Cam Lok(TM), which is much safer (there's no exposed metal parts - the connectors twist together and when connected are water resistant), and doesn't require any additional tools to connect together (just wrists of steel).

The point of all this is that rental houses will generally only send out lug cable if they have no Cam-Lok left (or if someone specifically requests it for some strange reason), since most people don't want the lug cable - plus, those lugs are metal, and when one of those ends breaks loose from the coil of cable that you're carrying over your shoulder and smacks you in the shin, it's beyond painful (I think "lug-to-the-shin" torture is banned by the Geneva convention).

Yesterday was a commercial which basically was different people standing and talking against a white background. Once we got set up (and after we tried and failed to send the lug cable back and get some Cam-Lok cable), there was nothing to do - and I always forget that most stages have wireless internet these days and I leave my computer at home, so once I read the paper I was fucked until they called wrap and it was time to tear everything out.

I had to borrow a T-handle since if I still own one (and I'm not sure that I do) it's somewhere in the purgatory for forgotten gear (i.e. in a bin somewhere in my hall closet).

Warning: Girly content ahead. Proceed at your own risk:

Over the holiday weekend, I hit the Fred Segal sale. For those of you not in Los Angeles, Fred Segal is a horribly overpriced clothing store that's frequented by, well, people who can afford horribly overpriced clothing, but once a year they have a 75% off sale which gets the prices knocked down to levels manageable for the hoi polloi.

Although I almost never buy anything, I always go. Free entertainment, you know.

This year, I found the best pair of shoes ever:

Nine hundred dollar shoes

All the shoes were 50% off, so these were marked down to... wait for it.... $450.

Yup, that's right. The normal price of these shoes is NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS.

WAY too rich for my blood, but they sure were purty.

I didn't set the white balance on the camera correctly - they're silver, not gold.

Here's a side view:

Side view


Even if I could afford it, I'm not sure I would pay it.

According to the salesperson, about 15 women had tried them on, looked at the price, sighed heavily and then put them back on the rack.

Oh hell. Who am I kidding - I so would pay it if I had that kind of cash. Never mind that they were horribly uncomfortable and completely impractical for anything other than sitting in a chair and looking alluring. When you have shoes like that, you don't even have to get up. People will do things for you.


Dave2 said...

Oooh shiny! From the looks of it, those shoes could be used as a bus bar in an emergency situation. :-)

rburgess said...

Unfortunately Lug torture is fine now
-----warning political downer ahead----,0,619852.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

Milehimama said...

That's where the power of the internet comes in, my friend!
Close to the style, under $40

There's nothing like a good purty pair of sitting shoes (a concept my husband does.not.get. no matter how I try to explain it to him.)

Mark G. said...

I used to date a girl with a taste for 'sitting shoes'.

I became quite adept at sizing up her footwear and choosing venues based on proximity, valet, estimated maximum walking distance, risk of cobblestones etc.

Anonymous said...

Of course you can't afford those shoes!

It's apparent that a goodly chunk of your disposable income is spent on pedicures...

Meg said...

Hmmm, I don't call them "sitting shoes." In my day, we called them "FM shoes" IYKWIM.

Anonymous said...


mark said...

Hate the shoes... but nice foot.

foreign agent said...

Meh. Now I envy your toes.

(I'm sorry, but what with all the talk of lugging heavy stuff, I sort of had this trucker-dyke-ish image of you in my head. Which you just smashed to smithereens.)

But on the other hand, living with my dad's nose and my toes from-some-forgotten-swamp-thing has formed my personality so that I do see the shiny prettiness, and - though I'm able to appreciate it quite a lot - the thought of ever actually wobbling on things like those hasn't really crossed my mind.

Plain has it's upsides - it's cheap, for one.

Anonymous said...

As a guy I walked into a shop a few days ago and walked out with a new pair of shoes. In and out the door in under two minutes! Including time to pay by credit card. THAT'S how to shop for shoes. Girls take note!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you have cute feet! You could be foot my house.

molly mayhem said...

Wow, ya learn somehting every day. I've only been doing this about a year, but I've NEVER seen nor heard of a lug connector.

Is your t-handle by any chance a 5/16 hex/coffin key? (Tools have so many freaking names and I can't tell from the picture.) I carry one of those around for coffin locks, which I run into from time to time, mostly on cable cases.

I adore your blog. I work primarily in theaters and convention halls, so the comparison with movies is fascinating. There aren't a ton of women in my local, either, so it's really inspiring to read you.

calm said...

Haven't seen a T-handle tool in thirty years. Thanks for the flood of imagery. And you could have someone buy the shoes for you, and pay them back a little at a time..

Aaron the Truck Driver said...

Damn those lug connector and T handles are sexy!