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.


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, 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.