Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Training for the 5/3 River Bank Run - WHY!?

I had a wonderful opportunity to write a short essay on why I was planning on running the Fifth Third River Bank Run in May. The prize is a free entry into the race. I hope if this doesn't get me the prize, it at least gives 'em a chuckle:

"I will admit I hate running, especially after my training mile today. I hated running in high school too, those steamy, wretched days when Ms. Hogle's voice would echo through freshman gym, wondering where we "laggers" were hiding, usually behind the bleachers where the air conditioner blew cold and refreshing. But that nagging desire to finish kept most of us going: that miserable, face-pounding, arches-aching, exhausting moment when you passed her and she barked your finish time, a little faster than the last.

As I grew to adulthood, I traded my running shoes for figure skates and I have gotten far more use out of them. I’m proud to say I’ve trained in the sport for over 10 years, have passed numerous tests, and won a medal at the most recent adult national championship.

But I still feel a masochistic urge to run, and the desire to accomplish a "finish" in a road race, do something at the creaky age of 41 that I couldn’t or wouldn’t do at 14. I think Ms. Hogle would shout her approval."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In the Midst of Christmastime

Yay for another Christmas! This was made all the more fun by the fact Will was just a little more aware that something special was going on, but not sure what.

Dave was feeling ill (stomach bug? holiday stress?) he and Will went bed early Christmas eve after a fun time with grandma and grandpa Planeta, all his aunts, uncle and cousin. That left me to play Santa.

Since Santa should always have presents ready for play, that meant taking the zip ties off the hockey sticks, unleashing the BBQ grill from its packaging, loading up the batteries, and getting all the Little People in their garage.

Stockings too had to be hung and surprises revealed from their hiding spaces.

Will responded as planned Christmas morning, waking at 7:30 with the biggest grin as if he knew something special was happening. He clapped when he saw the presents, and in wonderment, went from one present to the next to play, taking turns all day long to play with each one.

Regular presents from mom, dad and family in Texas were opened of course, but there was so much excitement, that it didn't take long for him to wear out and grow bored with opening presents. He left 3 under the tree and didn't get to his sock until the next day.

As for us, we glowed with the pleasure in knowing that everyone loved their presents and we in turn loved ours and had all day left to enjoy them. My old roommate Cara came by with her brother and husband for a holiday dinner that included STELLA! and watching the old Ocean's Eleven movie with the rat pack.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Show Afterglow

I performed this weekend as part of the Georgetown Holiday on Ice ensemble. It was amazing, and so much fun to be a part of such a creative group.

There were 20 acts in all, from group numbers to solos, beginners to elite, babies to adults. There was a Grinch and a Nutcracker Prince, and two versions of Silent Night that were somehow completely different. Divas made their presence known, as well as pop princesses and boy bands.

I did indeed perform a comedy number to the New Christy Mintrels version of "We Need a Little Christmas!" The premise behind the program, as described earlier, was to be a Christmas-crazy calendar girl who despairs to turn the pages of her calendar to sucky days like Tax Day or unusual ones like Talk Like a Pirate Day, until I finally find it to be Christmas.

I was told a.) I skated faster than anyone has ever seen me skate; b.) I skated well; c.) the concept was really funny once people put 2 + 2 together; and finally d.) I engaged the audience in my program and they applauded through the whole thing. I don't know, I've seen the pics on facebook and there's quite a few people who were clock-watching, sleeping, or looking at something other than me on the ice.

Who cares about over-analyzing -- it was FUN!

There was a reception afterwards, and we contributed punch to the festivities. It was a huge ego boost to hear all the compliments and to see how the audience enjoyed themselves. The spread was amazing and I caught the baby a couple of times stealing cookies off the tray. He avoided the sushi tray, which just meant more for us.

Already there is talk -- will we do this again? Already there is a resounding YES!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

We're staying in for Movie Mayhem

It was something straight out of a Steve Martin family comedy, but not so funny while living it. The boy, well... let's just say he was ill this past week in the most explosive, dramatic way. I held it together until 1am this morning when he vomited ON my face. Having been sick for a couple of days, he was past the bile stage, but that made it no less disgusting.

So with the boy convalescing and the weather downright frightful (but not as bad as StormTeam 8 made it out to be), it was the perfect time to catch up on all those DVR'ed movies in the que. No chance to catch up on housework until today, since the patient preferred to be cuddled.

First movie up is a dark chick flick, "The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood." It's now in heavy rotation on one of the women's networks, Lifetime/We/Oprah, so when I started watching it one night halfway through, I was able to tape it to watch later in its entirety. Can I say I love Ellen Burnstyn - wasn't she the drill sergent in Private Benjamin? Lots of big names, so much so, that some of the scenes seem painfully short because you want to see more of them. Cherry Jones as the crazy mom! Dame Maggie Professor McGonagal! Crazy Alex from Saved by the Bell, the College Years! And Ashley Judd was perfectly cast as the beautiful but tragic Vivi. I was hoping back in the day when this movie was first released that there would be more movies about the Ya Yas as there are 4 books plump with delicous stories, but alas, there are no more since robots blowing up other robots makes more box office.

What made the movie more endearing is we girls DO have packs of friends that if they aren't our lifelong mates, at least last for a good long time. WMAS girls -- we could be a chick flick! Which leads to the ultimate idle conversation piece, if someone made a movie of your life, who would star as you? Off the top of my head, I'd dip into the Ya Ya well and go with Crazy Alex from SBTB - TCY. For now, based on her curly hair.

Next up was "Amelia," starring Richard Gere and Hillary Swank. Hillary Swank is amazing in almost anything, although I cannot vouch for her turn as the Karate Kid or Steve's girlfriend in 90210. She portrayed Earhart as just a gal who wanted to fly. She was so good and so charismatic that her desire to see women as equals was less harpy feminist and more inclusive friend to all. I found it interesting to see that snake oil salesman such as her publicity hound husband are nothing new, and if anything, were a tad more sleazy with fewer ethical/moral dilemmas to answer to. As a period piece, the costuming was amazing. I have always been fascinated with the '20s and '30s, so to see them in vivid color, just beautiful. And the last half hour of the movie, although I already knew the sad outcome, was no less intense.

Onto "The Lovely Bones," directed by the guy who did all the Hobbit movies. The actress who portrayed Susie Salmon was rendered with such a lovely, luminous light that if you had already read the book, your heart ached to know her fate. I read some online reviews that slammed the director for his fantastical renderings of Heaven, but I found it otherworldly, beautiful, and how the afterlife would look to a 14 year old girl. I also loved Susie's narration, because it was a story about her, and how what happened to her affected her family and classmates. Susan Sarandon's grandma re-established my love for her and Stanley Tucci was so appropriately creepy, he made me sick. Also, shout-out to the actress who portrayed Holly - it's Wei Wei from "Stick It," one of the WMAS so-bad-it's-good chick flicks of choice.

Next up was "Up in the Air," starring George Clooney. Watching it made me uncomfortable as each firing made me relive the souring pit-of-the-stomach experience I had two years ago when I went through the same thing. Clooney is so much like Nicholson in the fact that he has that commanding celebrity/star power, but when he's IN the movie, he IS that character and you forget that he is George Clooney for the time. Sadly strange and detached man, who timidly seeks out relationships while he preaches about "keeping your backpack empty." Guest star power: Jason Bateman, childhood crush from "It's Your Move"; JK Simmons, previously a skinhead on "Oz," as a guy getting laid off; and the actress playing Natalie did an amazing job at forming a complete person who started out cold to reveal mistakes of her own. I looooved when they crashed the tech party, there was some joy in that scene. There was also that ache in wanting these significant relationships for Ryan, his family and his mistress.

Finally, it's not a movie but is was lots of fun in spots: Saturday Night Live featuring Paul Rudd and Paul McCartney. The "Stumblin'" video short was so stupid, it was brilliant. McC's performance of "Jet". The "Meryl Streep on Ice" sketch. TINY HARMONICA SOLO! It was so much fun to see goofy joy protrayed with such enthusiasm.

A total aside, a friend from work has shared a wig catalog with me after one of those conversations-that-went-on-a-tangent. I've decided that if, God forbid, I ever needed a wig, I would go on a new-hair-a-day bender. I'm talking red Veronica Lake for Monday, hot pink pageboy for Tuesday, blonde curly for Wed... you get the idea.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Creative Dash to 2011

It's been a week bursting with creative output. First there was a phone call late last week from Kelly at American Seating to see if I could write a brochure. Needing new tires, I quickly said yes but in true advertising fashion, it was needed "yesterday." After a crash course in chairs, I rolled it out and am waiting to hear from her for further edits.

Then there was the catalog job I agreed to in November. After writing a couple of pages for input, I waited to hear if I was on the right track. And waited... I finally got the okay, but since I had a deadline looming, I hit the computer the minute the baby started napping and yesterday completed the 36 pager. Whew!

Then there was the push to finish Christmas shopping. Since packages need to be shipped to family across the country, we needed to be done early. Also, three very important presents had to be handmade. I'm proud of how beautiful everything turned out. I can't reveal too much here, but there was some framing and beadwork involved.

And once all those presents were made or purchased, they needed to be wrapped. I'm sorry to say this was no artistic endeavor, it was pure assembly line. One after another, cut, wrap, tag, next. If I ran out of paper, I started a new roll. If it was an awkward item, I went tissue, gift bag, tag, and toss under the tree. At one point I was desperate for Buddy the Elf cheer, as I needed the kind of energy rush one could get from spaghetti and maple syrup. Blurry-eyed and achy ankles, I whimpered at 9pm on Friday night "this is the last one."

Yes -- under the tree! That went up on Monday, trimmed in toddler friendly oranments. It's Will's tree too, and he needs to enjoy it as much as anyone. So on the lower branches are soft, cuddly ornaments; bright, sparkly plastic snowflakes; santa heads with fluffy beards; bendy toys and wooden pieces. If he wants to play with the ornaments, he can.

I was invited to a cooking making party, which I went to after judging a skating competition. Me -- bake?! After the pumpkin pie debacle of 2001, the cookie pucks of 2003, the cereal "bars" of 2004 and of course the sugar-free cherry pie disaster of 2007, I have passed pastry duties onto Dave. Still, I wanted to contribute some sort of sweet to the production. I brought marshmallows, chocolate, candy canes and recreated one of my favorite treats from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company. It took me longer to shop for the supplies than it did to make them. All I did was line the marshmallows in a baking sheet, drizzle them with chocolate and top them with shards of candy canes while the choclate was still liquid. I've already drawn raves, so I think I will be making another batch and already thinking about how to improve them.

What's in store for the next week? The upcoming Christmas skating show, for which I will be performing "We Need a Little Christmas." A houseguest from Chicago coming in for the show. Housecleaning. Planning a mahnu (I'm watching "Father of the Bride") for Christmas. Getting giftcards for the babysitters. Tough love on the closet for Cara's visit. Continuing to train for skating and my 5K. Sleep, maybe a couple of soothing baths too.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday Noddin'

Holiday shoppping has not yet been a problem for me; as a matter of fact, I have been shopping with great enthusiasm for trinkets and treats for the babysitters and co-workers.

I have yet, however, to muster the enthusiasm for home decorating, namely putting up the tree and hanging the stockings. My reasons for my joy of the season is the same source of hesitation for putting up a tree: the boy.

Will is an amazingly inquisitive child, which has led to him swinging from the baby gates, attempting to eat batteries and generally finding the most dangerous thing in the house to play with. This curious investigative nature will no doubt extend itself to the eventual destruction of the Christmas tree and pulling down of Christmas stockings.

And then there's the cat, who still has lots of kitten in her. If her eager play with an apricot pit is any indication, she will have waaaaay too much fun wreaking havoc on our tree.

But we cannot celebrate without a tree, it's just not done! Let's cross our fingers for a Christmas miracle.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Random Acts of Awesome

"The Gobble" - Old Navy's Thanksgiving/Black Friday promos. The music is catchy, the lyrics clever, and how can you go wrong with a new dance? I love it, the boy loves it, and it has guaranteed my presence after I get out of work at midnight Friday morning.

Hubby's in the Kitchen! Acknowledging my shortcomings as a pastry/baker has never been so delicious. First there is the too-thick-to-pretend-it's-healthy cheesecakes, now he's ready to rock the key lime pie.

Vocal character. Part of my job is to call the local taxi company to shuttle patients and workers back and forth. Today i called and was greeted by the gravelly voice of the dispatcher, one can only guess has been aged by whiskey, cigar smoke, and living.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wizardly Wonder and a Diabolical Feast

Unless you live under a rock, you must know that part 1 of The Deathly Hallows was released this weekend. Securing a babysitter eager to make some christmas cash, we made a day of it - me and Dave, Denise, Jen and Scott - by enjoying a lunch at Wild Buffalo Wings then cramming ourselves into the sold out show at 2:10, Celebration Cinema.

In my pursuit of changing my diet to be more diabeticly friendly, there are some things I have not consumed in a long time: chicken wings for one; deep fried mushrooms for two; big beers for three; Little Debbie Snack cakes for four; big plates of spaghetti for five. There is a reason these foodstuffs are so dangerous - they are so delicious.

Foodies would look down on my empty calorie smorgasboard, but I must defend. The wings were crispy, juicy, and tossed with generous amounts of spicy garlic, teriyaki and asian zing sauce. What else would you eat on a college football afternoon?

The mushrooms were a tad disappointing, having no flavor, but helped out with the smoky southwestern dipping sauce, one sauce I wish they'd put back on the menu.

The beer... Stella Arturios (sp?) was never on my radar until this most recent advertising campaign. "The champagne of beers!" mastheads cry. Me love champagne! I open the menu to a frosty, sparkly image of a full beer glass of Stella that persuades me to try one. She lives up to the hype. Madame Lightweight, thirsty from combating a cold, consumes one in nothing flat, then does the world's poorest Stanley Kowlaski in ordering another -- "Stellllllaaaaaa!" The beer itself is cold, crisp, light and smooth. The head was creamy.

Now properly fed and soused, our merry band trooped off to the theater for the movie, leaving early enough to get decent seats together. Good thing too, a good half hour before the movie weas to start, the auditorium was 3/4 full. We managed 5 seats together in back row.

What to say about this film/book series to give it justice? First is the series by JK Rowling herself. To create such a world of, well, magic is a feat unto itself. To take such far-out ideas, themes, creatures and scenarios and make them BELIVABLE. Bravo. She also created a series that grew with the children reading them. The difference between book 1 and book 7 is astonishing in the breadth and depth of character, plot and sheer weight of volume. But Rowling didn't write DOWN to her audience, instead challenged them to rise up to her. This created for us a series that could be enjoyed by parents as well.

But then to translate them onto the screen. There are the actors, the three principals playing Harry, Hermione and Ron. Directors who remain faithful to the vision only to improve upon it.

Special effects and CGI have played a huge part creating Harry's wizarding world for movies 1-6, but what sets #7, pt.1 apart is the humanity of the story. The SE/CGI is necessary but takes a back seat to story, the struggles of the characters on their quest. Probably the most interesting character to me is Ron, the "pureblood" wizard who struggles with the all-too human emotions of fear, doubt, self-esteem and frustration yet ultimately does the right thing. Applause to Rupert Grint who has personified Ron so well, from his game of Wizard Chess to destroying the locket horcrux in DH pt.1.

The only thing missing in this installment was Snape, played with a delicious mix of scenery chewing and dangerous brooding by Alan Rickman. I expect his scenes to be the highlights of part 2.

I don't want to go into too much detail about part 7 or else ruin it for others, but it's worth standing in line. It's worth the ticket price. It's worth squirming in your seat because you have to pee. It may even be worth going to see again.

Our day continued with a snack and shopping run to Target, where more empty calories ruled the day. I played good with the drinks, getting La Croix cranberry (zero everything), but fell under the spell of Christmas marshmallows and Little Debbie strawberry shortcake rolls.

Not content to consume so much sugar, I made a big pot of spaghetti as we watched a series of specials on the creation of the HP movies, from directors and casting specialists to the special effects teams, composers and set directors. I didn't want to ruin the "magic", but was delighted to discover the real magic was in the inventiveness of all these people to create what they did in the first place.

And I think that is what my blog is all about, again, finding those muses to make the magic.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Conceptualizing is FUN!

Sometimes the creative spirit comes at you like a bolt of lightening and you have to obey the course of that thought or else it completely and utterly fizzles.

Here's what happened.

I was honestly discouraged by the prospect of skating to Gabriels' Message. It's a lovely song, but the problem that revisiting an old program presents is old bad habits returning to the surface. I found myself stifled by choreography that is 6 years old and couldn't see past it to create something new. I attempted new elements and new steps only to find it all felt OLD.

I tried this on two separate sessions, and came to the realization that I had to let Sting go.

Faced with training a silver freeskate test program and choreographing a new comedy routine (hellooooooo, Dan!?), in a snit fit at a family roadside diner named "EAT!", I wrote the Christmas program off to Dave and said, "forget it, I'll just skip the Christmas show this year," and reveled in my calendar opening up in December.

Flash-forward a few hours to road construction in Dayton, OH and my husband's joy at finding the all-Christmas station. On came a very Broadway-esque version of "Need a Little Christmas!" This song always cracked me up with its combination of gaiety and urgency, "we NEED a little CHRISTMAS! Right THIS VERY MINUTE!"

This lead to talking about those moments in life when you indeed do need a little shot of Christmas, like on the worst holidays of the year...

And in an instant, I had my concept for the Christmas show. I get to be a calendar girl whose page-a-day calendar goes horribly wrong, until we finally flip to Christmas.

I can't wait to get started.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

So What Have You Learned...?

The decree has been made: in the interest of time, I am revisiting an old program, Gabriel's Message, for the Christmas show. Suddenly, I'm nervous.

Why?

Because of a time crunch, Michelle wants to see what I can do with the program. I'm steering my own destiny.

The good news is I have, somewhere, a drawing of my old choreography from Mandy when the program was new in 2004 so I have a head start. The good news is that I'm a better skater than I was 5, 6 years ago. The bad news is, that means I have to come up with something better, stronger, and with more elements, on my own.

I'm a good judge, a mediocre freestyle skater, but a good exhibition/interpretive skater. What this hodgepodge means is that I'm must be my own worst critic at playing to my strengths while incorporating the best of my medicore freestyle.

Finally, there is the matter of costuming. Do I portray Gabriel in white, the angel with eyes as flames, or Mary, the astonished maid in blue? White makes sense, but the dress has a bit of competition bad luck attached to it. And the blue, a velvet with a glissinette skirt, has sleeves, important for skating in a chilly rink out in a cornfield in December.

I'm out of my comfort zone, this ought to be interesting!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cyndi My Hero

Speech class, Sophomore year in high school, we were asked to give an impromptu speech on someone we admire. No time at all to really prepare or give it too much thought since I was second in line, based on the starting point chosen by my teacher.

The muses of my 15 year old self are murky some 25 years later. Being a girl who had-friends-but-wasn't-exactly-popular, I know there was a lot of editing going on in my head: say the wrong thing and have that used against you as evidence of your nerd-dom, but still stay true to yourself, because how else are would you get through a one minute speech without preparation if you lie?

Suddenly, it was my turn and I blurted out, "Cyndi Lauper."

My teacher seemed genuinely surprised by my answer. Given that my last speech was about baseball (Milt Wilcox), my teacher asked me to explain the shift in my interests.

I talked about the breadth and depth of her songwriting, her singing talent, and her unique, thrifty personal style.

To that, my teacher said, "her personal style is kind of out there, don't you think?" and I retorted, "she doesn't care what people think," an honest assessment of my wish, at that time, to feel the same.

History has proven my choice of muse a good one. Campiness of her WWF ties and thrift store wardrobe aside, Lauper's carer is marked by significant achievements as a performer and songwriter as well as her longevity in the spotlight. She's done movies, Broadway and reality television. She's done pop music, punk, musicals, and standards. Two of her songs, True Colors and Time after Time, routinely make rock magazine and music channel's countdowns of best songs.

She is also an advocate for people. A high school drop out, she saw the value in an education and went back to earn her GED and encouraged others to empower themselves and do the same. An advocate for all persons to be treated with dignity and respect, she is a spokesperson for the rights of gays, lesbians and transgendered.

All the while, she conducted herself with class, dignity and nary a scandal.

But how has she affected me, as a person? Because of that little declaration in 1985, Lauper became someone to emulate, someone to follow. I'm not saying I started sporting "What Would Cyndi Lauper do?" bracelets, but her style allowed me the bravery to march to the beat of my own drummer. Her songwriting inspired me in everything from accepting who I am and what I wanted to accomplish as a creative person.

I was flipping thorugh random youtube videos and stumbled upon Cyndi Lauper performing with Scott Weiland for a VH1 Honors special a few years back. The years have treated Cyndi well, for her inner and outer beauty is crystal clear, her voice pure and lovely.

Some muses are meant only to inspire for a moment, but I'm thankful that Cyndi has been a source for many years.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Snap!

I have been relying far too much on the click and go capabilities of my iPhone, and this blog is looking bare. It's time to dust off the real camera and get to work.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tale of Two Musicals

The gales of November came early on Tuesday, as some crazy hurricane force winds tore through our area. This forced the fam into the basement for the duration of the tornado warnings, and that's where we set up shop for the day. I quickly tore through a slew of little nagging chores and mini craft projects, which means last season's skating medals are finally hung as well as all the baseball bats. Things were glued, sewn, cleaned and collected.

Later, it was quality family time by way of a couple of musical offerings. First, we watched "Under the Sea," a Kevin Spacey musical on the life of Bobby Darin. It was a confusing mess. The way of getting the show started was confusing: was it Spacey as the actor portraying Bobby Darin talking to the child actor also portraying Darin discussing how to introduce Darin or Spacey AS Darin talking to himself as a child how to best tell their story? What I knew of Darin prior to the movie could fill a thimble (Splish! Splash!), but what I did know was oddly absent, that being his forbidden love affair with another starlet, one of my dad's favorites, Connie Francis. Overall, I found Darin's story neither compelling nor unique; I also didn't find Darin that compassionate a character. Then there was the ending: a baffling song and dance finale by either Darin the elder and darin the younger or Kevin Spacey and the child actor. Then the graphic designer in me was annoyed by the choice of type font for the end cards and credits. You just don't use display type for copy blocks. Bleh.

On the flip side was the Rocky Horror "Glee" episode. A few laugh-out-loud moments. A very clever management of the more adult themes in RHPS by having them enacted by the adult characters instead of the schoolkids. Lively musical numbers, the one that stands out for me is Mercedes as Dr. Frank N Furter - belt it girl! I was disappointed that they backed down from performing the show for the public. I've only seen a grand total of 2 1/2 episodes of this show, but I think more are in the future. I give it a "woot!"

The cutest thing of all is the boy's reaction. Not a music critic at all, he just loves song and bebopped through every song, from "Splish Splash" to "The Time Warp."

It's just a jump.... to the left!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Skating with Celebrities!

A few weeks ago, Dave and I made the trek to Toronto for a small vacation. Inbetween attempts at touring the Labatt Brewery, discounted sushi, Rush band points of interest and the Hockey Hall of Fame, I managed to get a toepick onto the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club ice.

I was extremely nervous since this place has an international reputation, but according to their brochure, they have a wonderful adult skating progarm taught by... BRIAN ORSER!

Who is Brian Orser? Two time Olympic silver medalist. World Champion. 8-time Canadian champion. Prettyfreakin' awesome skater and humanitarian.

And I got to take his adult skate class!

I got out on the ice and did a few laps to warm up, until Brian skated up
to me! Millions of OMG! thoughts went through my mind as he introduced himself
and quickly reviewed what he does in the class. I introduced myself to him, told
him what US Figure Skating levels I was at, and I thought I could keep up. He
smiled and said he was glad I was there, and I lost a bit of composure and said,
"it's just an honor to be in your class. I'm so very pleased to meet you." He
clapped me on the shoulder, said thank you and we got started.

I wish I could tell you he gave me some earth-shattering insights into my
skating, but I was one of 10 adults in the class he was teaching. Skate Canada doesn't have our MIF equivalent, but the skills Brian was demonstrating and asking us to replicate started with Basic 8, then went into the pre-bronze through silver tests, with a heavy emphasis on dancey moves and edges. I can tell you I was a tad disappointed to be demonstrating how "good" I am at swizzles to the 1987 World Champion. But I was a little proud to be flying through the power pulls and cross strokes that he was teaching the rest of the class.

He then broke out of all of that to show us how to put some of those skills
together to create little footwork sequences. This is when he unleased the
Orser. A change of edge pull became a little piece of magic. He made two
crossovers, a swing roll and mohawk look, well, Olympic. Then he switched it up
to so how to make a change of direction into something glorious. A two-foot
glide come alive. I know I was standing there with my mouth hanging open. Maybe
a little drool. One of the other ladies nudged me, wide-eyed herself and asked
rhetorically "Aren't we LUCKY!?"

Brian worked with me from time to time, taking me in turn. We did swing rolls
side by side and he complimented me on my edge rip. When we changed up the tempo
of back cross strokes, we held hands and skated face to face *sigh* while he
gave me instruction to keep my head up and shoulders down. He also noted my L/R
dyslexia when he demonstrated something and I did it perfectly the opposite way.

So I didn't have a chance to show off too many of my moves, but I had lots of fun sharing the ice with Brian and all those wonderful TCSCC. It was an hour to remember!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

FASHION! Turn to the left, FASHION! Turn to the right!

Clothes. Fashion. Style. Such startlingly visual evidence of one's personal style -- or lack thereof.

I wish I could say I've always had an eye for style, but I couldn't be more wrong. So often in the past, I have to admit to buying trendy, cheap, what was available, or what I would others thought was cute/sexy/flattering instead of what was obvious from looking in the mirror.

There are some things that just don't work on me. Cutesy sweatshirts with things marching across my already ample chest are just no. I hate the look and feel of turtlenecks. Crew necks are my least favorite type of t-shirt. And I haven't even started in on the pants...

There's a reason for the existence of the advice column in glamour about dressing for your body shape and the advice is consistent, correct.

I don't know how or when it happened, I think it was a vintage shop in San Francisco, at the legendary Haight/Ashbury intersection. I was thinking how cool it would be to find some hippie gear there, of all places. Instead, I found a SF Giants jersey (too big), a Hungarian peasant blouse (too burgundy), and a purple Hawaiian print shirt (had a pharmeceutical firm stitched on the pocket). All eventual fashion mistakes, yet I discovered a love for vintage/thrift and it opened my eyes to the possibilities of creating personal style for a fraction of the cost of shopping retail.

I have a few rules now, developed over the years:

1. TRY IT ON. This could very well be the ONLY rule. In order for something to look well, wear well, and be a thrift bargain, you have to try it on and see if it works. Case in point, over the summer I stumbled into World Mission and Thrift, 99 cent day. Loaded the cart. One of the items I thought was a sure thing was a cute halter dress with a strawberry pattern. I was already visualizing picnic at the beach, cute mom and baby, etc. The reality was a top small in the breasts that turned a short waisted dress into an awkward a-line. The surprise was the army green sheath dress that was sleek, comfy and changed its "attitude" depending on the accessory. I love it.

2. INSPECT. An item may look cute on the hanger, but I always check armholes for rips, skirts for stains, zippers if they work, missing buttons. If the piece is a gem and you are handy, one missing button won't stop you, but a grease stain is a grease stain and will almost always be a grease stain.

3. TEMPER IMPULSE SHOPPING. It may only be 99 cents, but even then too much can turn into too much, and it's not a bargain if it's just sitting in your closet. I try to do a quick inspection of my closet before going to see if there is a need (currently want dress pants for work) and shop for that.

4. AVOID RUTS. I once went on a kick where all I bought were sweaters in white/cream, then switched it up to include pink. Unless white button-down shirts is your signature look, try mixing it up. Again, this stuff is usually under $5, take a chance!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Comedy - a most misunderstood art

If there is one artform that is truly polarizing, it's comedy. One man's pun is another man's fart joke -- what you might find hilarious, I may find unfunny, or worse, in extremely poor taste.

Right now I'm in the creative process with an amazing choreographer working on a light entertainment/comedy routine that I hope will get me through the next season and a half.

Thus far, we haven't choreographed one step of this thing. That so far is due to travel, timing, and prior commitments.

The biggest issue though, is in creating the character. Stuff like the dress, apron, props and all have been easy. It's the song itself that's the problem.

The song I have picked out has two things going on, first is the development of character and then a storyline. Both are hilarious. Both take an awful lot of time. And US Figure Skating gives me a 1:40 perform in, and the song itself is over 5 minutes long.

So the problem becomes, how to fit it all in. The first cut I did had too much character development and not enough story. Dan understood the need for both, but his version feels choppy and frantic. There's also the problem of character development: after playing an unattractive character last year, I wanted the emphasis to be on WHAT the character does and less on how unattractive she is. But I don't want my ego to get in the way of what could be a fantastic program.

The challenge as a competitor is to be able to sell the character to the audience without being self-conscious and without confusing them. You don't want to play it safe, but you don't want to offend either.

I hope all this thought is worth it. I hate to overthink something that should be lighthearted and fun, because to do so robs the idea of being fresh and spontaneous.

Argh!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Take That, Password Nazis!

All good ideas sometimes come to a crashing halt. What's the excuse now, one might ask. August 1, there was some rigamarole about extra password protection, and for some reason every time I tried to get beyond the problem, the site threw up more password "protection."

Thanks, I guess.

So what's been beautiful about the last few months?

I've grown addicted to the site newdressaday.com, where Marissa redoes a thrift store find with a daily budget of a dollar. Marissa's talent with a needle is astonishing and some of her transformations have had an influence on my closet and what I call my "tough love" pile.

It's been a gorgeous fall, with a couple of Indian summer stretches interspersed with comfy fall weather. Who 'da thought I'd be taking my boy to the beach for a picnic in the sand in the middle of October? And the fall color has been vibrant.

I participated in my first ArtPrize, submitting for approval a piece called "Beaded Curtain" which was on display at Art Addictions and Oddities. I didn't get close to sniffing the top 100, let alone the top 10. However, I was featured twice by the Grand Rapids Press, once online in their gallery and once in print. The gallery was reviewed as a "can't miss" gem of outer fringe venues and I had lots of fun being an "artist" for a few weeks.

Skating-wise, it's been amazing to see everyone working to get ready for the season. New programs, new music, new dresses, hopeful expectations. Most everyone is producing programs that adds a new facet to their skating.

After a hiatus from shopping, I have found a new vigor for thrifting. I've discovered some amazing finds, some as cheap as 50 cents. One girl's trash...

Been to a few concerts since last blogging. I've renewed my love for the bands Rush and Stone Temple Pilots since their shows this summer. Rush has never disappointed when I've seen them live, but there was something special about the show at Summerfest in Milwaukee. The new music was a rich as their most complex hits, and although I cannot claim to be a huge fan of their heavier stuff (Caress of Steel? Really?), I rather prefer their output from 1996 - on.

Circumstances beyond my control prevented me from ever seeing STP prior to this August (thank YOU lazy waiter at San Chez back in '97), and this show caught me up on what I was missing. Electrical, magnetic, dynamic, HOT vocal performance by Scott Weiland, matched by the searing musicianship of the band. The best part was the tickets were 10 buck apiece, up in the stands away from the mosh pit, so we got to chill and enjoy the show.

Then there is of course the romantic gushing I could do about son Will. He's such an amazing character, and growing so well.

I promise readers, if there are any, that I will be more diligent THIS TIME about discovering some of those artistic gems.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Brave, Bold

I met someone today who I could only assume was having a pretty tough day. Regardless, she looked stunning, and I complemented her on her look. Superficial as it was to do, you could tell it brightened her day.

My compliment was not an empty one. She sported handmade necklaces and an elaborate headband that gave her the adventurous look of a travelling gypsy. Not surprisingly, she was also a musician with an eclectic array of influences that formed one unique voice.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Coming Back to the Art of Everyday Life

I credit Leslie Plank for being my muse and lighting the creative fire for me to pick this up again. She is the author of http://thiscraftygal.blogspot.com/ and was on the television show EightWest this morning showing off her flower creations. Awesome.

I can be forgiven for not having followed up my initial musings, since after the first blog entry two years ago, I was surprised to find I was pregnant with my son. A separate blog was created to celebrate and share the ups and downs of that adventure, one aptly named Adventures: http://notabene.typepad.com/adventures/

Yeah, we didn't keep that one going after Will became more active, and thankfully, healthier. But I have been busy!

The original thought behind my blog two years ago was to revisit those cassettes that have become obsolete as technology replaces one format after another. Think of all those folks who miss the crackle and pop of vinyl. I'm of the generation that had cassette tapes stuck in every available storage compartment of my car. I was going to listen to a cassette every week and given an album review based on rock-ability, sustainability, and durability.

Alas, the passage of time has seen me bid adieu to the very vehicle that still had a cassette player. We still have the Cabrio, but in a game of musical cars, that vehicle is now the temporary transportation for our ballplayer and I'm a gal about town in a mom-mobile, a new-to-me Ford Escape. Change to a larger vehicle was necessary, I was clocking the baby in the head with the roll bar every time I shoehorned him into the car seat.

I like the idea of revisiting old cassettes as I relinquish them to the trash, freecycle, etc. but I have a new inspiration: the art of everyday life.

For today, I was driving through downtown on my way to work. Day: crappy. Traffic: lousy. As I drove up the Wealthy street bridge to get on the highway, I enjoyed a brief respite from my crabbiness as I watched an African-American man with an easel creating a painting while standing on the sidewalk overlooking the 131 S-curve. It was so completely out of the ordinary, this bright splash of a man creating in the middle of industrial drudgery as the masses went about their to and fro. As I waited to turn left, I was able to view his work and see the highway from his point of view. Instead of gray, dirty, noisy and mechanical, his point of view was sleek, dynamic, and sexy, a bold rush of primary colors set off by a silver guard rail, bent as if viewed from a fish eye lens.

He was oblivious to my admiration and the curious stares of my fellow commuters. If anyone shouted profanities or gave him a thumbs-up, he didn't care as he was completely into his creation.

He made me smile in appreciation for his dedication to creation and the boldness of his actions. The creative process can be challenging if people are looking over your shoulder, inevitably offering their opinions, their criticisms, their mockery of your attempts at making something unique. By creating in public, he was more than a painter, he was a performance artist, taking you along for the ride.

So to Leslie and the Wealthy street painter-guy, thanks. You've inspired me to blog about the beauty I find every day.