Category Archives: safety

I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me.

I honestly find the brain fascinating. I mean, who wouldn’t? It just sits up there, being all smart (or, I suppose, stupid), letting us do amazing things (or banal ones), remembering the lyrics to the theme song of The Greatest American Hero years after we actually saw the program, yet refusing to spit out the first name of the acquaintance we met only a couple of weeks ago at a shindig.

Which is why any news about people who have traumatically injured their brain with foreign bodies AND SURVIVED IT is like a delicious dessert to me. I can’t get enough of things like this. Something! Went into their BRAIN! And they SURVIVED IT! Their BRAIN!

So of course, I was super-stoked to hear about this story the other day.

You’re totally not going to click. I KNOW YOUR M.O. YOU HOOLIGANS. That’s ok. I’m excited to tell it to you anyway.

So this guy in Illinois – Dante Autullo, and isn’t Dante kind of a kick-ass name? Yes – was building a shed in his backyard. He was using a nail gun. Now, I don’t know about you, but nail guns scare the beejeebers out of me. You always see them being used as makeshift weaponry in action films. I don’t want to use something that shoots high-speed nails for my home repair. Mostly because I’m totally clumsy. If I can’t use a hammer and nail properly, I’m pretty sure a nail gun would be catastrophic. ANYWAY. So Dante’s putting up his shed, possibly to cover up his portal to the Underworld (that’s a Divine Comedy reference, not a judgment of whatever Mr. Autullo’s got going on in his life) and he was “using the nail gun above his head when he fired it.” That seems dangerous, but maybe that’s what one does with nail guns, I’m not a contractor. He felt like he got punched in the side of the head, and had a little wound, so thought maybe the nail gun bopped him on the head. As nail guns are wont to do. They’re totally revengey.

The next morning, he felt like he was going to yak, so his girlfriend was all, “Dante, let’s get you to the ER?” and he went.



There are no pain receptors in your brain (which has always confused me, because explain my headaches, then, sciency-types) so the nail didn’t hurt – only it entering his skin/skull did.


What did Dante do when shown this x-ray?

“When they brought in the picture, I said to the doctor `Is this a joke? Did you get that out of the doctors joke file?”‘ the 32-year-old recalled. “The doctor said `No man, that’s in your head.”‘

Ha! A FUNNY JOKE FILE! Doctors have a joke file? I totally want to see that. Also, why’s his doctor a surfer-dude? “No, man, that’s in your head, bro! We’re just going to take it right out of there, dude!”

Apparently, nails are a better thing to have in your brain than bullets, because bullets break up and cause all the damage and dying and shit, while nails are thin and do not break up and have a pointed tip. This nail kindly stopped before it entered the parts of his brain he was using, and the doctors were able to remove it (by drilling two holes in his brain and pulling the nail out along with a piece of skull, ew ew ew) and listen, Dante is FINE. Like, joking with the doctors (ok, “joking,” Dante’s not all that funny, but I don’t think that’s a nail in the brain side effect, I think he just isn’t all that humorous, I wish the nail would IMPART humor, that’d be awesome) fine.

Now, one time I was watching some show, I don’t know what it was, I want to say Rescue 911 (remember how horrible that show was? I used to get nightmares from that show) or something along those lines and I can’t find reference of it online and that’s unlike me, I’m totally a champion Googler, but I remember some story where some guy was driving along, minding his business, and was behind a truck filled with rebar, and the truck stopped suddenly, and one of the pieces of rebar FLEW OUT OF THE BACK OF THE TRUCK and THROUGH THE GUY’S WINDSHIELD and INTO HIS EYE AND BRAIN. That was horrifying. Can you even imagine? You can’t even blame that on a revengeful nail gun. FLYING BRAIN-INJURING REBAR! I don’t remember what happened to the guy. I remember what happened to ME – I’ve been afraid of driving behind a truck with anything pointy and small enough to enter my eyeholes ever since – but not the guy. Probably he lived, if it was on Rescue 911. I don’t think they had a lot of gory death stories on there, did they? Just horrendous injuries that freaked me out.

Then there’s this guy. Phineas Gage. Exciting! Doesn’t that sound like someone who would be outstanding and also sit up very straight? Also, I can’t hear the name Gage without thinking of that demon child from Pet Sematary and “Gage wants to play wichoooo” and ACK. Phineas Gage worked for the railroad in the mid-1800s. He was in charge of putting explosives in holes and tamping them down with a large iron rod. One day, something went VERY WRONG and the explosive went off while he was tamping, sending the iron rod THROUGH HIS BRAIN. All the WAY through. Like this:


The doctor showed up and this is what the Wikipedia article said and SO EFFING GROSS AND ALSO AWESOME:

“I first noticed the wound upon the head before I alighted from my carriage, the pulsations of the brain being very distinct. Mr. Gage, during the time I was examining this wound, was relating the manner in which he was injured to the bystanders. I did not believe Mr. Gage’s statement at that time, but thought he was deceived. Mr. Gage persisted in saying that the bar went through his head …. Mr. G. got up and vomited; the effort of vomiting pressed out about half a teacupful of the brain, which fell upon the floor.”


Also, the bar totally PASSED THROUGH his brain and landed a little way away. Went THROUGH. Like a JAVELIN.

So he recovered, although he looked kind of like a freakshow, and toured with Barnum and Bailey for a while, because if there was one thing P.T. Barnum knew, it was that people love creepy shit that gives them the shivers.

But! His personality totally changed!

Before the spike through the head incident, he was “hard-working, responsible, and ‘a great favorite’ with the men in his charge, his employers having regarded him as “the most efficient and capable foreman in their employ.” After the accident? Um. Well. Not so much.

First, he carried the metal bar around with him. EVERYWHERE. He called it his “constant companion.” He was even BURIED with it.

Also? “He is fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint or advice when it conflicts with his desires, at times pertinaciously obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, devising many plans of future operations, which are no sooner arranged than they are abandoned in turn for others appearing more feasible. A child in his intellectual capacity and manifestations, he has the animal passions of a strong man. Previous to his injury, although untrained in the schools, he possessed a well-balanced mind, and was looked upon by those who knew him as a shrewd, smart businessman, very energetic and persistent in executing all his plans of operation.”

Then about 12 years later he had convulsions and died, so I guess longevity and steel spikes through your head don’t really go hand-in-hand. He was only 36.

So, then, wait a minute, he kind of seemed to get shiny-toddler-ADD, didn’t respect things, was crabby, and cussed a lot.



I need to talk to my parents. Maybe I had a steel bar shot through my head and didn’t even know it. Shit shit shit. WHY DO MY PARENTS ALWAYS HIDE THE BEST THINGS FROM ME SERIOUSLY.

Although I could totally use a career as a sideshow carny. That would be AWESOME. I’d be best friends with the Dog-Faced Boy and hang out with the geek and get free readings from the fortunetellers and eat all the free fried dough. I’m all over this. Also, I love to travel.

Perfect career move! Plans have been made! This one’s going to work, you guys!

For an imaginary person, she totally seemed realistic. NICE JOB GOVERNMENT.

Happy Saturday! I SAID HAPPY SATURDAY. This is totally the time when you cheer or whoo-hoo or whatever it is you do to get pumped. Oh, fine, I’ll forgo the mandatory cheering. I mean, we don’t work at Walmart. We don’t have to do our team cheer. Shit, I don’t know your life, maybe some of you work at Walmart. I MEAN NO DISRESPECT TO YOU WALMART EMPLOYEES. You have a totally difficult job, that place must be the worst. SPEAKING OF WHICH. My dad used to work at Walmart? Right after he retired? Until he realized it was sucking out his soul through his pores to keep going to work there? And he had to participate in those? Only, well, he’s MY dad, and imagine how I’d respond to a group cheer, and then think about heredity, and you can imagine that totally went over like a lead balloon. He used to stand way off to the side, and when it came time to cheer or whatever they did, he’d stand behind a display so they wouldn’t see he wasn’t participating. I KNOW. Totally nefarious. I approve WHOLEHEARTEDLY.

OK, so as I’m sure the savvy among you have guessed (which, let’s just say it, that’s all of you, I don’t even have any non-savvy readers, I ONLY ATTRACT THE CREAM, BABY) (that totally sounded filthy-dirty, right? I didn’t mean cream like “cream your jeans” or something. I meant like the cream rises to the top. Man, but your minds are just the naughtiest!) I’m writing this Friday night for Saturday publication because I’m working all day Saturday with no internet access then I’m off to see Bebe Newirth and then, well, I’m going to get drunk and fall asleep, so really that doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging. I know. I LOVE YOU ALL THAT MUCH. I’m totally giving you my Friday night. What’s that? What else was I going to do with it anyway? LISTEN SLAPPY. I could have done a LOT of things with it. Television shows to be watched, tweets to be tweeted, um…dishes to be…washed…FINE THIS WAS A REALLY GOOD OPTION.

I was going to do random-crap Saturday, but as I started writing I realized I totally had enough to say to make this a WHOLE POST. I really have a lot of words in my head. It’s a constant wonder to me that they don’t just run out.

So Friday, I had a very exciting thing happen. A VERY EXCITING THING! I know, right, you probably are thinking, “Pshaw, Amy lives like this totally exciting life, exciting things happen to her ALL THE TIME,” and, well, you’d be right, I mean, I can’t deny how rip-roaring outrageous it is being a very well-known blogger and all with the notoriety and such. I mean, just IMAGINE the exciting nights spent on the couch with my cat! Or PONDER the evenings where I’m tussling with my ancient computer trying to get it to work! IT IS MAGICAL.

Anyway! ANYWAY. So Friday, I was at the library. Speaking of which, I’m totally reading like a sloth lately. I’ve been stuck on the same book for like a MONTH. I am not even EXAGGERATING. And also reading all those horrible plays I mentioned earlier in the week. But the book I’m reading is very long and sometimes good but sometimes I just want to find the author and say, “YOU COULD HAVE CUT LIKE 500 PAGES DUDE” but I want to see what happens so yeah, A MONTH. And I’m like halfway through, I’m not even kidding. There goes my resolution to read more in 2012. But I keep reserving and taking books out of the library. Because someday I’ll finish this book. Right? I will, right? And in the meantime, those books just sit on my shelf. MOCKING ME. With their much-better book faces. DAMN YOU LONG BOOK. Although there was a somewhat-steamy scene with my favorite character today (whew, FINALLY, I love my taciturn Russian spy the most) so it might be looking up. Maybe.

And I checked into the library on Foursquare, because a., I’m totally affected and I think you all want to know what I’m doing like every second of every day because I’m JUST THAT INTERESTING and I know it’s going to either get me killed by a psychokiller or my house robbed one of these days but I JUST CAN’T STOP and b., I’m the frigging MAYOR of the library, I can’t just stop checking IN, who does that? I mean, I can’t lose my library mayorship. I’m the most proud of that. It’s like, you know how you people with children feel about your kids? That’s how I feel about my library mayorship. What? That’s sad and pathetic? SHUT IT JUDGEY. I won’t even tell you if I was being sarcastic about my mayorship equalling your children. I won’t even give you the SATISFACTION.

And then – THEN – (I know, you’re all, um, I was promised something exciting was going to happen? And so far…this kind of blows?) @RozinCP tweeted me that she was RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the library. Right next door! Well! That’s exciting, and look, see how handy Foursquare is, you Foursquare haters? How could she have done that if I hadn’t checked in? SHE COULDN’T SO SUCK IT. So I thought, that’s nice, and hey, listen, I love Roz.

OH! Side note. I totally love Roz? Because she is seriously the most positive person on Twitter. No, I’m totally serious. But not in that annoying, “ZOMG I saw a DOUBLE RAINBOW you guys I wish you were all here so I could give you DOUBLE HUGZZZ!” way, which makes me want to stab you with a protractor. No no no. She’s INTELLIGENT positive. She is supportive toward the people she follows; she is very intelligent; she reads and comments (beautifully, humorously, and grammatically!) on people’s blogs; and she’s just a joy. And listen, you know I hate like, oh, I don’t know, everyone, right? So this is totally a huge endorsement. Also, she approves of my wine addiction and sent me a song on John Lennon’s birthday because she knew I would love it. So if you’re a Twitter person, you should totally follow Roz. She’s the bomb.

So I thought, isn’t that nice, look, Roz is right next door! And I told her we should have lunch, because Roz is one of the Twitter people that I would like to meet in person. I mean, listen, there are Twitter people that should STAY on Twitter, like, ALL THE WAY OVER THERE PLEASE THANKS, then there are Twitter people that should become real life people? And Roz is the latter.

Oh, and also, I’ve mentioned this, but my dad’s convinced all the internet people are imaginary. I’m not sure if he thinks they’re all figments of MY imagination, or if some shadowy government agency has made them all up and is tweeting and texting and blog-commenting and such as them or what, but he’s always saying how you all aren’t real. So you know, there’s that to consider. AND there’s how my brother said you all had one hand.


So first I was a little scared, no, not of Roz, but because I’m kind of a weirdo and was afraid I would scare poor Roz, and also I have ALL THE SOCIAL ANXIETY OMGWTFBBQ, and then I thought, NO AMY YOU ARE AWESOME, so that was totally my pep talk. Listen, I’ll give you a pep talk for free if you need one, you know, if we’re friends. I’m very good at them. I cuss a lot in them, though. Just a warning.

She said she was going in and she was wearing a red coat and a red hat and so I ran out of my car and there was Roz! Ta da ta daaaa! I may or may not have scared her by saying, “RED COAT!” loudly as if I had Tourette’s but we moved past that. She’s very gracious. And we had a lovely but all-too-brief conversation in the lobby of the library (because I had to go back to work…grumble) and probably that was asshatty because I think you’re supposed to be quiet there. I mean, Roz was quiet. Well, that sounds weird. She wasn’t a low-talker. She was a NORMAL talker. I wasn’t quiet, though. I’m totally hyper. You know that, right? I have this one friend that is always shushing me. It’s like a knee-jerk response with her. Even when I’m not being loud. She’ll just go “shhh” when I start talking, like pre-emptively shush me. At first this annoyed me, then I realized, it was done with LOVE. Love for my loudness! Because for all the times she’s shushed me, I’ve never once toned it down. Yet we’re still friends! That’s love, people.

So! I met a real life internet person! And we had a nice chat and she is SO NICE, you guys! She wasn’t even a psychokiller even a LITTLE bit! She was just as nice in person as she is on the internet! I know, that never happens. This might be unprecedented. And listen, I gave her two hugs. TWO HUGS! So that kind of made me like the double-rainbow-hug-asshole above but I was so excited to meet a possibly-imaginary internet person that my default setting was “hug,” apparently. ALL THE HUGS. AND! Listen, Dad! SHE WASN’T IMAGINARY.

Also, when I talked to my dad about this tonight, here was our conversation:

Me: So, I met a Twitter person today. In real LIFE.
Dad: On purpose?
Me: Um…not by accident, how weird would that be? Yes. On purpose.
Dad: Were they a killer?
Me: Well, I can’t speak for everyone she’s ever met, but I’m obviously still alive.
Dad: You can’t just go meet internet people. They’ll murder you.
Me: I didn’t just go MEET her. We happened to be in the same place at the same time. And she wasn’t a killer. AND she wasn’t even imaginary.
Dad: Oh, I don’t know. The government can make you see what they want you to see.
Me: What does that even mean?
Dad: Shh. I think I’ve said too much.

I also totally told Roz I was going to blog about her and she said that was cool with her. So hi, Roz! And thank you for meeting me! I hope I wasn’t too scary! And my hair wasn’t too insane! And my eyes weren’t too crazy! But even if they were, thank you for not being scared of me in person!

Now I KNOW you are all totally jealous and want to meet me in person? And that’s so nice! But you cannot. Because I am a recluse. Yes, like a recluse spider. Only less eight-legged. I mean, local people, you can totally meet me if you come to my theater? For Rumors? Starting February 10th? At Albany Civic Theater? Because I will be stage managing and running the lights and the sound and if you come to my show I will TOTALLY give you AT LEAST two hugs because patrons of the arts deserve at least two hugs. NO NOT YOU DING DONG JOE. You’d just be there FOR the hugs, and listen, that’s totally creeptastic. You get ZERO hugs. And also maybe a restraining order. But the rest of you? Hug city. And you far-away people? Aw, sad pandas. If it makes you feel any better, I promise I’m totally exhausting after like half an hour and you’d wish you never met me at all because it’s like carrying on a conversation with a hamster with ADD. I mean, I SEEM awesome at first, like, oh, OK, here, it’s like, you know when you’re totally wanting something like mozzarella sticks and then you think about them and think about them and THINK about them and then you’re all “I WILL DIE IF I DON’T GET MOZZARELLA STICKS” so then you GORGE on mozzarella sticks and then you’re totally disgusted because they’re kind of greasy and you wonder what you were thinking to begin with? Yeah, I’m kind of like a mozzarella stick? I seem like a great idea at the time, and I can TOTALLY be delicious. Only in teeny, tiny doses. Also, I’m better with some spicy marinara.

Anyway, ROZ! Thank you for making my Friday a happy one and for making my first real life ZOMG Twitter meetup a total success whoo-hoo!

Happiest of weekends to you all! Oh, and remember! Not all the internet people are as awesome and normal and non-killery as Roz? SO USE CAUTION MY LITTLE HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS. I don’t want anyone psychokilled and their last words to be “But Amy at Lucy’s Football said meeting internet people was AWESOME so I met SirHumpsaLot in the abandoned parking lot where the Blockbuster used to be…cough…cough…ugh” because I would feel HORRIBLE. So be careful. Rule of thumb? Bring a weapon, unless you’re meeting Roz, or one of my friends, because, other than a few shady characters (contact me privately, I’ll totally give you a list of the assholes) my friends are TOP-NOTCH.

SMOOCHES. Happy day to you all!

A Little Glowtape Goes a Long Way

Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark opened on Broadway last night. I have not seen it; I have little interest in doing so, so bear this in mind while reading. Also bear in mind I am running on about five hours of sleep after having stayed up way too late last night. (I went to a concert, which is a great idea in theory, and was wonderful – Company of Thieves, in case you’re wondering, and they are amazing live, so if you haven’t heard them, get one of their albums and you will fall in love. However, I am no longer in my twenties, there were a million entitled hipsters, and it was a Tuesday night. I didn’t get to bed until 1am, and I’m beat. I have yelled at a door that shut incorrectly and answered a basic question with an incomprehensible answer so far today. I feel like I’m sleepwalking through mud.)

I’m a theater person. I’ve been a theater person since junior high, when there were open auditions for The Diary of Anne Frank and I was cast as Mrs. Frank.  The production didn’t happen – the director had a nervous breakdown that involved him muttering something about “I’m going to ride across the country on my bike and EAT NOTHING BUT CANNED BEANS” while rocking back and forth while we stood around, wide-eyed and awestruck (hi, Mr. Page, sorry!) – but the theater bug bit me, and unlike some people who are smart enough to ignore that, I’ve been a slave to it ever since.
I currently am the Artistic Director of a community theater, and work on most of the shows my theater puts up in a season in some capacity. I usually stage manage; sometimes I work the light booth running lights, sound or both; I have also assistant directed, done the props, and acted, when it was needed. So when the news started trickling out about how people were getting injured while working on Taymor’s Spider-Man, it bothered me.
I loved The Lion King. It was a glorious spectacle. However, the acting took a backseat to the costumes and puppetry. There was acting, but I don’t think you can concentrate fully on your acting when you also have to concentrate on making sure your headdress comes down at just the right time to convey your anger.  My opinion, after more and more people were injured in the making of Spider-Man: Taymor wanted to top the spectacle of The Lion King, so she put safety on the back burner. I don’t think it was done maliciously. I don’t think she said, “Screw the cast and crew and FLY, SPIDER-MAN, FLY!” I think she knew that her reputation was riding on this, and The Lion King was a hard show to top, so she had to do more, be better, be bigger. People suffered as a result, and this is reprehensible.

Actor safety is important. The actors need to feel safe in order to do their job. As crew members, your job is to take away every worry you possibly can from the actors so they can concentrate on their main job – performing the hell out of their role every night. You get them the best costumes and someone to help them with quick changes. You get someone to help with hair and makeup, if you can. You get someone to hand them props, set the stage, hold the curtain. You glowtape the hell out of the dark places and you blue-light the backstage area until it’s lit up like an alien runway so they don’t trip in the dark. You do this so the actors are safe, and so they don’t have to worry about anything but putting on the best performance they can for the audience – because they are the ones in front of the audience every night. Your name is in the program, and attached to the production, but their face is the face of the production, and they’re the ones who have to live it down if the production bombs, even when it’s not really their fault. So you do what you can to be their safety net, because that is your job as a crew member. The actors (especially in community theater, which is all volunteer) are giving you their time and energy – it’s the least you can do to give them 100% safe and smooth working conditions.
This really became more of a rant than it was meant to be. I do wish the best for everyone attached to the production; I never want a production to fail. I especially wish the best and safest conditions for the actors and crew members.  May you fly high and never fall.

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