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.