Staying Shiny

My life as a Uber-geek in a Bridal world


I'm feeling at a bit of a loss lately.  I find myself struggling with a lot of things in life.  It has been a year of ups and downs and the last few days have been quite a roller coaster of emotions.  In all of this, I find myself struggling to find he spirit of Christmas.

Where to begin...well a big stressor lately has been the fact that J is currently unemployed.  While this was not a decision he came to lightly, it has been hard.  Things got really bad at his job and he became very unhappy.  He began having panic attacks each night with the thought of going back there another day.  After discussing it we decided the best course of action was for him to give his notice and leave.  He felt an instant sense of relief.  I started to worry about money.  We decided not to exchange gifts for each other this year to save money and we have done very well at living on a tight budget until he is able to find a new job.  I think I won't feel that sense of relief until he has a new job in place and it's so hard to find something right now going in to Christmas.  I hope the new year will bring a new job for him and bring me a sense of stability.

About a week ago I lost an old friend.  Jo and I grew up together and later she worked for me for a while.  We have stayed in touch over the years although I haven't seen her in person in few years, I have spoken with her quite frequently on facebook.  Last Friday she let me know she was driving back here from where she lives now to visit with her family.  I was really hoping to maybe get the chance to see her and her brother even just quickly before she went home.  Sunday morning her brother posted the following on facebook "woke up, dreaming of taking someone to the hospital.  Weird"  At 11:30 pm the same day he posted this "Need your prayers tonight for my nephews.  They are on their way to the children's hospital.  They were involved in a car collision.  Please, prayers for my boys.  For those that knew my sister I'm sorry but she didn't make it.  Pls, prayers for my boys."  My hand went to my mouth in shock.  Jo was such an amazing person with such a great sense of humor.  She always made me smile and I enjoyed teasing her brother with her.  This hit me really hard.  Jo was dead and her boys were in rough shape.  Since then, her oldest son has been released from the hospital and her youngest has started making progress towards recovery.  Yesterday he was taken off his breathing tube and began breathing on his own since the accident.  Today he was released from the ICU but is expected to be months in recovery and may have to undergo reconstructive surgery.  My heart breaks for her family.

Yesterday there was a tragedy involving 5 young people from my city.  While I don't know them personally it is still a hard thing to hear about.  Four 20 year olds were headed from here to Calgary for 2 of them to fly home for Christmas when the ex boyfriend of one of the girls ended up in a confrontation with them on the side of the highway and he shot and killed his ex-girlfriend and two males in the car, injured the other girl and then turned the gun on himself.  It seems like such a senseless act and such a waste of life.

I find myself very emotional over silly things.  Tonight for example, an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress" had me bawling like a baby.  There was a bride on the show who had been involved in a bad car accident that had claimed the life of both of her parents.  There was a moment in the show when she had found the perfect gown that her aunt hugged her and said "you're parents should be here"  For some reason that really got to me.  I'm trying so hard to keep my emotions in check.  Yesterday an old friend put things into perspective a bit for me with some very kind words.  She has been doing this thing on facebook where everyday she writes a Christmas memory.  She has always been such an excellent writer and storyteller that I found myself enjoying her trips down memory lane.  She wrote a story of a Christmas that I barely remember where I got her a job working the concession at a basketball tournament held during the holidays in our home town.  I wasn't so much the story as the line about me in it.  She said I (have) always been one of the most loyal and devoted human beings (she) has ever met.  I was astounded.  Here I was thinking about how I wished I had said some of these things to people I had lost and she is just doing it.  Telling people what they mean to her without prompting or reason.  It really makes you think.  This meant so much for me to hear why don't we tell people what they mean to us and how they have impacted us when we get the chance?  I am going to strive to do this.  I want people to know these things.  I want them to feel the rewards of their impact even if, like me, they aren't aware of it.

I'm trying to find the positive in life right now.  J and I are healthy (for the most part.  I have 3 cracked molars from grinding my teeth in my sleep) and have a roof over our heads.  We have everything we need in life and even a few frilly extras.  I have a happy and healthy family who I love and I get to spend time with them all this Christmas, with the exception of my brother and his family in Ontario.  I have faith everything will turn out for the best for us.  I just hope that 2012 will be a year with more ups than downs.

Christmas Baking

Today was our annual Christmas bake day with my family.  Every year my mom, sister and sister-in-law and I get together and do our best to make our friends and families a little fatter each year.  Today we got together and made gingerbread men, sweet n salty (a yummy cereal and nut mix covered in a syrup), cherry and lemon pound cakes, lemon shortbread cookies and oreo truffles.  This year went super smoothly and we got all this baking done in just a few hours.

It was the first year we made these Oreo truffles and let me tell you, they are amazing!  They are super easy to make too.  Well, after you figure our how to dip chocolates that is.  My mom and I started on them before everyone else arrived and after two terrible rounds of attempting to melt the chocolate and ruining some perfectly amazing Bernard Callebaut chocolate we finally got our technique down.  My sister showed up in time to help me start dipping the truffles and they turned out pretty great for our first attempt.  Plus they are super yummy!

Once the truffles were done D, JH and Miss A moved on the the gingerbread while my mom worked on various other goodies.  I rolled out the dough while D and JH cut out the cookies and Miss A did the decorating and sugar sprinkling.  She did a great job and helped through almost all the cookies which is pretty impressive for a 2 year old.  Some of her decorating made us all giggle.  Particularly the "fig leaf" gingerbread men and generous sprinkling of sugar.

Some of the fig leaf gingerbread men came out a little...inappropriate.  This lead to a lot more giggling and merriment.

All in all it was a fun day, even if my tummy is a little mad at me for having too many sweets.  Here's the fruits of our labors for the day.  Hopefully everyone enjoys them as much as we enjoyed making them!

Oliver Musical - My Last Three Months

Thieves kitchen, or as it affectionately became known backstage "Hell's Kitchen"

I have been very quiet in the blog world the last few months because I have been hard at work on the musical Oliver.  It was quite the experience.  I worked as the stage manager on the show and for those of you who have no idea what that means, let me tell you it's a huge job!  I had the privledge of working with a very wonderful Director and his team who made my job just a little easier.  I thought I'd share m experience with you so you can understand the job of a stage manager a little better and maybe if you are ever involved in a stage production make sure to thank your stage manager for all they do.

I got the job with the show just a few days before rehearsals started so I had to play a little bit of catch up at the beginning.  Usually I have the script read a few times and my show script prepped to add blocking and calls to it as well as have a contact list for all cast and crew made before the first rehearsal but I didn't have much of a chance to prep on this one.  Day one consisted of passing out scripts and compiling names/phone/emails of all the cast members then after a quick sing through of the show I headed home to compile my email list of over 80 names.  It took me nearly all night but it made the daily emails much faster by only having to type in one group instead of 80 addresses.

The next few months consisted of work (my regular job) followed by rehearsal every night and then home to answer emails regarding the show.  It made my day last from 8:00 am to about 1:00 am Monday to Saturday.  While I was unable to make it to Saturday rehearsals due to my work schedule, I had some awesome assistants who made sure there was always someone there to run things as smoothly as possible. While I was quite exhausted at times, J was super supportive and we had such a great cast and crew that I was able to get through it all without any breakdowns.  Even for having such a huge cast (and so many of them related to each other as well) there were no major fights or issues to deal with.  Everyone got along pretty well with each other and even the few who had the potential to be "problem kids" turned out to be great to work with and more than willing to help in any area I asked.

Having 2 casts for a show can be a bit challenging.  It's important to have the children's roles double cast in a show like this to keep them from getting too exhausted especially with a 3 week run of the show but it poses more challenges in rehearsal.  It was a balancing act to make sure everyone got equal rehearsal time and that nothing was missed.  There were a few times that I had to deal with slightly upset parents who felt that it was too much time/too late in the day/issues with changing schedules etc. but for the most part everything was worked out quickly and the kids all seemed to enjoy themselves. It was interesting to watch each cast (Apples and Banana's) develop and see the kids growth.  At first the Banana cast was quite a bit stronger, but in the end the Apple's gave them a run for their money!  I was so proud of both.  Having 2 casts also makes for a slightly different show between the two nights.  The Oliver's were both awesome but had much different strengths on stage.  Same with the 2 kids that played the Artful Dodger.  In each cast the Oliver/Dodger pairing was a boy and girl (Apple cast had a male Oliver and female Dodger while the Banana cast had a female Oliver and male Dodger)  They seemed to really click with each other and play off each other very well.

I was so happy to have things running so smoothly that we even had the set in a week early and the cast had plenty of time to adjust to working on it!  The only problem with that was I hadn't arranged for a crew that early so I spent about a week doing a lot of the set changes myself and re-injured my shoulder again, but it was fun!
Oliver set design

Set, one week before opening
Once we got into the run of things it went amazingly well.  J was by my side in the booth running the light board every night which was great because we hadn't really seen each other in 2 months (between work and rehearsals for me and work and coaching football for him)  Unfortunately on opening night the Director's wife had a stroke part way through act one and they were rushed to hospital in Calgary.  (She made an amazing recovery but it was sad to not have them there for the full run)  There were other minor disasters here and there (illness in the cast causing one of the leads to not be able to perform one night, family members getting ill, small fights between the kids, someone calling 911 from backstage as a prank) but everyone pulled together and made it the best show possible.  

Closing night the crew even put on a spoof night for the cast (in which I played Bill Sykes and J played Nancy...mostly so he could kill me by throwing me off the back of the set) and it went over amazingly well.  It was the first time that LMT has had a spoof night and I hope we started a new tradition.  For those who don't know, spoof night is when the crew performs the show for the cast, making fun of things that have happened during the run and some of the general silliness involved in the show.  I had to pare down 10 pages of ideas the crew had come up with into a 10 minute sketch but it went pretty well for being a last minute idea.

As a stage manager, my job is to be boss, friend, sounding board, organizer, problem solver, teacher, councillor and many more things.  It was worth it!  This was one of the best shows I have had the pleasure to work on and the people I worked with really were what made it so special!  I can't wait to see what next year will bring.

Here's a few of my favorite pics from the show

Bulletin board backstage featuring the kids homework - a short story of how they became and orphan.  And Lionel Richie

Banana Cast warmup before the show.  There's me by the piano
Banana Cast warms up
Some of the Orphans "dirty" feet.  This show used a ton of stage dirt every night
Food Glorious Food
Who Will Buy - Rose seller, Strawberry seller and Milk Maid
The Sowerberry's - Oliver's escape
Consider Yourself - Oliver and Dodger Apple Cast

Awesome Stage crew setting "Hell's Kitchen"

Nancy in Oom Pah Pah

Fagin with some of his little thieves

Bill Sykes falling from the bridge after being shot

Widow Corney and Mr. Bumble - I Shall Scream

Nancy, Bet and some of the tarts in the Three Cripple bar

Doctor Grimwig - "I'll eat my head"
Bill Sykes confronts Fagin

Bill Sykes sneaking up on Nancy right before he murders her

Banana Cast - curtain call
Green room shenanigans at midnight....every night

My closing night gift - The "Tony Workhouse Award" for best Stage Manager 2011

Crazy Life

Wow it's been forever since I've even had 5 minutes to update this.  Life has been way more than hectic lately.  Between work, rehearsal and life in general, I've barely even had a minute to breathe.

I celebrated my 31st birthday last week and it was pretty good.  I'm not sure how I feel about 31, but it's not like you can go back right?  J bought me a new cell phone (horay for joining the rest of the world!) and I love it!  How did I function without a smart phone before?  Just having the calendar app has saved my butt countless times this last week.  I had a great birthday though.  We went out to see a band play on my actual birthday (after rehearsal) and Saturday we went to dinner with a ton of friends.  Sunday, I got together with my family for a little birthday celebration and the most amazing cake made by my awesome sister, D.  Thanks D!  I loved my TARDIS cake and it was super yummy too!  Oh, and I also won week one of my fantasy football!

I am in the full swing of rehearsals for Oliver now.  Stage managing a cast of 74 people is a full time job in itself.  Yes, 74 people.  The orphans are all double cast in case you were wondering why there are so many as the run of the show is 3 weeks and that's a lot of time for any kid, let alone adult.  It a great cast to work with and once we get the scheduling bugs worked out things should run pretty smoothly.  As much as I'm enjoying it, I have to admit I'm tired and can't wait for it to be over.  Plus the songs are playing on a continuous loop in my head.

Yesterday was a really tough day.  J's uncle Davey was killed the day before my birthday in a really bad car accident.  He was a truck driver and was killed by another driver who crossed the center line and hit him.  The other driver was later discovered to be texting at the time.  Such a waste.  His funeral was yesterday and I didn't think it was going to be as hard as it was, but I broke down more than once. It's weird to say, but that was one of the best funerals I've ever been to.  Everything about it was just so...him.  From the coffin that was the same color as his truck and all chromed out to the funeral procession of motorbikes and semi trucks.  His sister and daughter gave the best memorial speeches.  They made us all laugh and cry.  There was even a guitar solo of Stairway to Heaven.  The part that really was the hardest for me was after the graveside service, my feet found their way to J's grandfathers grave.  He was such an amazing man and his loss still leaves us all very raw emotionally.  I was doing ok until my oldest nephew cam up beside me and put his arm through mine.  We stood there in silence for a minute and then I heard him sniff and I realized we were both crying.  J's dad came up behind us and put his arm around my nephew and we all just kind of crumbled into each other crying for a few minutes.  When I finally had the strength to loo around, I realized that the whole family was standing there and we were all crying.  We all miss him so much and losing Davey just made us all break down again.  But they are a strong family and we will all get through it.  J's mom and sister are amazing in situations like this.  They sweep in and make sure that all the things that need to be done are completed and that everyone is taken care of.  I admire their strength.  I am so grateful to be a part of this family.

So there's a little update on my crazy life.  It's been a week of ups and downs, but through it all, I think I've found a little more strength in myself through it all.

My Doctor Who Break

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a big Doctor Who fan.  With the severe lack of anything good on television at the moment I have decided to re-watch the new series in it's entirety and blog about each episode.  I don't want to bog this blog down though so I have created a new blog that will be strictly Doctor Who based.  I will blog about a new episode each weekday and will perhaps have the occasional weekend blog featuring some classic Doctor Who or maybe even a book review.  Now don't think that this means I won't be writing about any more Doctor here...on no.  You will still find plenty of references to him here, it's just that there will be a second outlet for my geekiness now.  If you wish to follow along, you can find the blog at:

Safe travels everyone.

Fright Night :A Review

My girlfriend DG asked me to go see this one with her on opening night.  She, like me, is a huge David Tennant fan.  Truth be told, that's the only reason we even wanted to see this one, but I'm very glad we did.  Fright Night surprised me.  It was slick, funny and well done.  It's kind of like the Zombieland of vampire flicks.

I'm not the biggest fan of Colin Farrel but he really surprised me with his portrayal of Jerry the vampire.  He was modern and creepy.  I loved the scene where he was trying to get invited into the house by borrowing some beer.  And the "Hey guy" line was fabulous.  Although I wasn't a big fan of the vampire transformation.  The shark-like face was unrealistic and really over the top.  That aside, Farrel was smoldering, sexy, creepy and funny.

Anton Yelchin was really great in this film.  I loved him as Checkov in Star Trek and he didn't disappoint here either.  He was funny and portrayed the growth that his character goes through very well.  Yelchin has impeccable timing with his line delivery.

And then there's David Tennant.  My Doctor.  I was a little leery that I wasn't going to care for him in this role.  However, in true Tennant form, he was absolutely fabulous.  The scene where he is being "interviewed" by Yelchin and slowly strips off all the trappings of his Vincent character while musing on how to kill a real vampire was superbly done.  It doesn't hurt that he looks pretty great in a tight pair of leather pants either.  I loved the break down of his character into a scared little boy and then rebuilding himself into a chicken fighter.

I am not a big fan of the 3D fad.  I think in most cases it's a money grab and does nothing to add to the film.  I prefer to see them in 2D unless they are films that the 3D adds to (ie. Avatar or Despicable Me).  This film was only playing in 3D at the theatre so we had to go that route.  Most of the 3D in the film did nothing to add to it, but there were a couple of small scenes where it did get kind of cool.  The ashes of a dead vamp floating around were pretty neat and the paint can that went through the window and straight at my head was well done but I don't think you'll miss anything by seeing this one in 2D.

Overall, this was a really well done film.  They took the original concept, stripped it down and brought it into 2011 fantastically.  The entire cast was great.  The writing was quick witted.  The effects, while over the top at times, were good.  I loved the comeo appearance of the original "Jerry".

I highly recommend this film as a fun, freaky Friday night ritual.

I give this film 4 out of 5 wooden stakes and raise it with a bit of holy water.

My Vacation

Today is the last day of my summer vacation, and it's been great.  J and I didn't have any major plans but we had a wonderful time anyway.  Last Sunday we spent the day out at my mom's place visiting with the family and spending some time with my Aunt that was up visiting from Arizona.  It was a great time and some great food.  J still had to work Monday so I went in for a couple of hours to get caught up on some stuff and then went and did some shopping.

Tuesday was our anniversary - see last post for details on our day.

On Wednesday J got a call that he had a coaches meeting that night for the football team he's helping with this fall so we headed out to the farm for the rest of the week.  The first few days were pretty uneventful just hanging out at the farm with a few of my nephews.  My oldest nephew and I did sit outside and watch a pretty amazing thunderstorm on Wednesday night which was followed by a biblical down pouring of rain that only lasted 5 minutes but made me wish we had an ark during that 5 minutes.  On Friday, J's sisters both decided to pull their trailers out and we could all camp together.  It was so nice to camp out with everyone and not have any major chores that needed to be done.  On Saturday it was hot out.  One of those sweltering heats that makes you now want to do anything.  My youngest nephew was bored so we turned on the sprinklers for the kids to run through.  None of the other kids wanted to play with him so I decided to jump in even if I didn't bring a bathing suit with me.  I got really tired of the other kids being lazy and just hanging out in their great-grandma's house watching tv and playing video games so I decided it was time to do something about it.  J's dad went in the house and yelled that it was time for them all to come outside and play and as they grumbled their way out the door I got them with a bucket of water and an hour long water fight ensued.  It was so much fun!  After the water fight died down we decided to take the kids swimming in the canal.  The water was clear and moving quite fast and was surprisingly warm.  Despite dousing myself in sunscreen I still walked out with a super bad sunburn.  We headed back to camp and relaxed around the fire while my brother-in-law cooked burgers over an open fire.  They were fantastic!  We stayed up late around the fire visiting and watching J and the kids play a late night game of "war" running around the fields shooting each other and having a grand time.

Sunday we were supposed to leave in the afternoon to pick up a friend at the airport but I decided to stay while J went back to town so I could go horseback riding with my sister's in law.  Things were going well at first.  I caught Jack with no problems and got him haltered and in the round pen with no resistance.  He was acting a little funny once I put his bit in but calmed down after I walked him around for a bit.  I decided to get on him in the round pen and ride a bit in there before we went into the field just to make sure everything was ok and that's when things went wrong.  I got on him and it was ok for a minute and then all hell broke loose.  He just started bucking like mad which he has never done before.  I tried to get him back under control but I soon realized it was a losing battle.  I managed to hang on until he turned away from the fence and then I bailed.  I hit the ground hard landing on my right foot and left knee  I scrambled to climb the fence quick as he was still bucking and had just reached to top when one of the kids and one of my sister in law's rand around from the other side of the barn.  My ankle was hurting pretty bad but I walked around a bit and C and I got Jack calmed and started checking his tack to see if we had done something wrong to make him buck.  C got on the phone and called my father in law to come down and help.  When B got there he checked things over and thought things were ok so I got back on with B holding a lunge line just in case.  Things went good for a couple of minutes and then he started again.  I lost my balance and my inner thigh's slammed into the pommel of the saddle hard and down I went.  B got him calmed and lunged him for a bit and then back on I went.  He seemed much better at this point so B gave me the reins and we went to riding.  I screwed up a bit and scared him and he jumped in response which threw me off balance again and scared him even more and he started bucking again.  In my head I knew what to do, but in that moment my body didn't respond and he managed to throw me high in the air and I cam down flat on my butt and my wrist.  That really hurt and I wasn't able to get back on at that point.  My nephew got on him for a bit and I went back to the campsite.  I found out later that my nephew got bucked off as well but thankfully he's ok.  I, on the other hand, am not.  My ankle is bruised and swollen.  Both of my thighs are jet black with some of the worst bruising I have ever seen.  And I have very limited use of my right arm.  I have injured my ulnar nerve which is really making life difficult since I'm right-handed.  Work tomorrow is going to suck!

Right leg 3 days after.

Left leg 3 days post "rodeo" I love how you can still see the seam line of my jeans in the bruise.

Anniversary "Traditions"

Yesterday J and I celebrated our 8th anniversary.  We also discovered a new anniversary tradition.

It started last year.  We left the house for breakfast and on our way we came across an accident.  An elderly gentleman on a bike had been hit by a car.  We pulled over and ran out to help.  I spent roughly 35 minutes kneeling in the middle if a busy road immobilizing his head while an off duty paramedic checked him over and J directed traffic.  We stayed until the ambulance and police showed up and then we quietly headed on our way.  (The man was ok.  He had a slight shoulder injury but was coherent and has since recovered fine, although I haven't seen him on a bike since.)  Needless to say, we didn't make it to breakfast, but we did a good deed.

Yesterday we left the house and went for lunch and on our way back we came across a guy whose truck had stalled in a very bad place on a very busy street and he was trying to push it uphill to get it off the road.  Without even discussing it, we pulled the car over and jumped out to help.  4 other people stopped to help as well and then a truck pulled over with a tow rope and we quickly hooked him up and got him off the road.

Now J and I are the type of people who always stop to help.  If we see a car on the side of the road, we pull over.  We hold doors open for people.  We boost cars regularly.  And now we joke about our new anniversary tradition of doing at least one good deed and then fading into the background like some superhero.

Here's to many many more years of keeping this tradition alive.

Light At The End Of The The Tunnel

Life has been crazy.  There have been so many changes with work over the last few weeks that it's a bit mind blowing.  I'll call it a "re-invention" of our business, but it come with a lot of hiccups in the road.  In the long run I know it will be good and it will hopefully mean a lot less headaches for me, but it's been stressful.  In just about a month our alterations department will be officially shut down.  Due to a bunch of circumstance beyond our control, we have lost most of our seamstresses and there is a serious lack of qualified seamstresses out there.  It has made life tough, but it will take a huge headache out of my life in the future.  I have been feeling very overwhelmed lately with everything, but I think I can see the glimmer of the light at the end of the tunnel now.  Tonight was my last "crazy" Thursday night of alterations...ever!  It was a long day (10+ hours) but it went fairly smoothly and there were no casualties.  I got everything done that I needed to and I even had enough time to eat.  If you know me, you know how big of a deal this is as I rarely take the time to eat at work.

I can hardly wait for the second week of August.  J and I are both on vacation together that week.  We have no major plans and I like it that way.  I think we may just head out to the farm so I can spend the week riding Jack.

Here's hoping the light keeps getting brighter...

Turning Back Time With Winnie The Pooh

I had the pleasure of taking my 2-year-old niece, Ms. A, to her first movie today.  Since she is a big Winnie the Pooh fan and so am I it seemed like a natural choice for her first trip to the movie theatre.  We both loved the movie!  Her first movie was a huge success.

I have to say that the choice to do this film in classic 2D animation was brilliant.  I got very nostalgic watching the pages of the book turn and the words being visible on the corners of the screen at various points in the movie.  I loved the way they blended A.A. Milne's original stories together the way the first Pooh film did.

Jim Cummings played Pooh and Tigger and was stupendous as ever.  Mind you, he's been playing these characters for years and has a voice acting history that spans countless years and amazing films.  Bud Lucky was new to the Eeyore voice and did a respectable job.  He captured the gloominess of Eeyore, but I could tell it was a new Eeyore voice right away.  John Cleese was a fantastic narrator and I particularly enjoyed the scene at the beginning where he tries to get Pooh out of bed.

However, there were a few things that I really didn't like in the film.  Craig Ferguson as Owl was very disappointing.  I understand movie companies wanting to included big name voices in films to sell more tickets, but in this case I felt it wasn't needed.  It's Winnie the Pooh!  People will see it for that reason alone.  I felt this version of Owl was missing his smug, yet very innocent superiority.  He came across as, well, kind of a dick.  He was the cause of most of the confusion in the film and it almost came across as though he was aware that he had messed up instead of being genuinely ignorant of his faults.  I don't blame Ferguson for this.  I think it was a poor casting choice and a bit of bad writing.  They really didn't need to hammer the "Back Soon/Backson" joke down the kids throats.  I think the point of Pooh for the young ones is figuring things out with the characters and seeing how their imaginations can take them on crazy and silly adventures.  I also wasn't the biggest fan of newcomer Jack Boulter as Christopher Robin.  Maybe I'm too much of a nostalgic fool, but I really think they didn't need to mess with the perfection of the original film.

Overall, this was a great movie.  I will watch it again and probably again.  It was a great first film for my "Auntie" date and a nice return to my childhood for an hour and ten minutes.  Stay for the credits, the pictures are worth it.

8 honeypots out of 10

"Wicked" Saturday

I had the pleasure of getting to see Broadway Across Canada's version of "Wicked: The Musical" yesterday. I have been wanting to see this show since it first came out as I read Gregory Maguire's book years ago.  When my Mom heard it was coming to our area, she decided to organize a girls day out with me, my sister and sister-in-law. Since I majored in Technical Theatre in University I find myself watching stage productions with a much different eye than most people.  I find myself always sitting down in the theatre and checking out the types of lights in the roof, where they are focused and looking for the little details that reveal what may be coming later.  I was in awe of the stage to start with.  The Time Dragon set was impressive and I spent the first few minutes looking at it closely through a pair of binoculars.

It really is a magnificent design.  I could tell that the dragon itself was going to be mobile and that we would be in for a treat of moving set pieces and I wasn't disappointed.  I was also intrigued to see spotlights and operators hidden in the set pieces on both sides of the stage.  I was curious how they would be used as the angle they could light at was obviously very steep and would create drastic shadows.  Once the show started, I realized how those shadows where a well designed part of the show.

The cast I saw was incredible!  It consisted of an excellent assortment of well-decorated actors and dancers including a former cast member from So You Think You Can Dance (Natalie). I was most impressed with Anne Brummel who played Elphaba.  Her voice was so powerful and her stage presence was immense.  She really embodied the character well.  All of the cast was really excellent, but she really stood out.  The design of every aspect of this show was very impressive.  The set was amazing and a character unto itself.  The costumes blew my mind.  I particularly loved Elphaba's costume near the end of the show and one of the black and white dresses from the "Dancing Through Life" number.  The projections were fabulously done and created very real moments, particularly in the rain scene.  Above all, I loved the lighting.  I'm a bit of a lighting snob since it was my focus in school, but I loved the design on this show.  Kenneth Posner made excellent use of color and moving lights.  There was a very powerful moment at the end of Act one where Elphaba flies for the first time and the lighting was amazing.  I loved that she almost looked like a floating head in a sea of black with all of the lights focused on her body and amazing shadows cast below.

In short, I loved the show and I am very grateful that I not only got to see it, but share it with some pretty awesome women.  Fingers crossed out next outing will be to "Beauty and the Beast" in December.  For now, I'll just try defying gravity!

Bridesmaids: A Cautionary Tale.

As a Bridal Consultant, there are a few questions that I get asked by customers on almost a daily basis.  "Do you love your job?"  Of course I do!  I get to play Barbie for a living and help people's dreams come true every day.  "Do you ever have any really bad Bridezilla's?"  Occasionally yes, but the honest truth is usually the major problem is Bridesmaids.  Why the Bridesmaid, you ask?  Because most girls have NO idea what it means to be a Bridesmaid.

Girls, if a Bride asks you to be a part of her wedding party it's because she wants you to be a part of her special day.  HER special day.  It is not your wedding, so shut your mouth, smile big for the camera, and give her all the attention she needs.  It is her wedding gown so even if it's not your taste, be happy for her and keep your opinion to yourself.  I'm not saying you shouldn't say something if it really makes her look terrible, but wait for her to give you her cues first.  If she is beaming in the gown and has tears in her eyes, maybe you shouldn't say something like "I just really hate dropped waist gowns because I think they make hips look big, but if you like it than get it."  You know that all she is going to focus on now is her hips, even if it doesn't make her look bad.  That is just being passive aggressive.  Don't get me wrong, I will be the first to tell a Bride if I feel the style of dress is wrong for her, but I am never mean about it and I always find a better option right away.  I have seen Brides make the wrong decision on a gown because a Bridesmaid likes a different one better (because it is more to the maids own taste) and regret it later.  I've gotten frantic phone calls after the dress has been ordered asking if it's possible to get a different style because they have realized their maids pushed them into the wrong gown.

Do NOT give ultimatums.  If the Bride wants you in a floor length gown, wear a floor length gown.  If she wants you in vomit green, wear it with a smile.  Don't say, I won't wear that.  Don't threaten to drop out.  If you truly feel that way, DON'T agree to be a Bridesmaid in the first place.

Be aware that agreeing to be in the wedding party may come with a lot of out of pocket expenses.  Travel and Hotel may me required.  Most Bridesmaids pay for their own gowns, alterations, shoes, jewelry, hair and makeup so please be willing to do so.  If you don't feel you can afford to fulfill the Brides vision, take her aside and respectfully let her know.  Don't do it in front of everyone and don't be bitchy about it.  Be prepared to spend anywhere from $100 - $500 and you haven't even bought a gift yet.

Be aware that even though just about every Bride says she wants to pick a dress that her maids can wear again, chances are you never will.  Even if the style may be one that can be worn to other occasions, chances are there won't be much call to wear a lavendar or coral gown ever again.  If it's what she wants, just do it.

Please don't make the Bachelorette party about you.  Don't leave her in a corner and forget about her.  Don't take off with some random guys you meet at the bar.  Don't pick a fight with one of the other Bridesmaids.

I see way to many Brides who are stressed out because of their weddings already get pushed over the edge by one of their Bridesmaids.  It's uncalled for.  It should be about the happy couple that day whether you agree with the centerpieces or not.

To the maids who do understand what their role is, Thank you!  You make my job and hers a lot easier.  Even if she puts you in the most unflattering dress in the most hideous combination of colors imaginable, you are a true friend.

The Hunger Games : A Review.

I'm a very avid reader.  I typically have 2 or 3 books on the go at any given moment and read at least 5 books a month.  A couple of weeks ago a very awesome person bought me a Kobo e-reader as a thank you gift.  I will admit, I was a little resistant to it at first.  I love the feeling and smell of a real book, but I have warmed up to it very quickly.  I love being able to take tons of books with me not matter where I go so I can read whatever I'm in the mood for.  I will still buy books, but this is great for ones I'm not sure about wanting to own and read again.

I say all of this because my Kobo is what lead me to read "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins.  I came across it on the Kobo homepage and I remember hearing it was good but I really didn't know anything about it so I thought, why not give it a try.  I'm glad I did.

The Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the central city, The Capitol, controls the fates of all those who live in the outlying Districts.  Each District is kept under a heavy handed rule and have little contact with the outside world except once a year for the annual televised Hunger Games.  This brutal competition pits one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district in a fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowd.  Every child in each District is eligible and a random draw is held to choose the contestants each year.

The Hunger Games follows our main character, Katniss Everdeen, through her heartbreaking decision to volunteer for the games in order to save her sister and her subsequent journey into the politics and strategy that is involved in surviving the games.  She is tough, smart and very easy to relate to.  It is difficult to imagine the choices she is forced to make at such a tender age, yet Collins manages to make us understand.  Katniss is forced to fight and kill in order to survive, not only for her family but also for her fellow tribute from her District, Peeta,  when it is announced that 2 people from the same District could win the games.

I don't want to spoil anything for you so I won't say any more.  I do recommend that you pick it up and read it, and soon!  If you have ever read and enjoyed the classic book "The Chrysalids" by John Wyndham I promise you will love this.

12 solid mutant toes out of 10.  Pick up a book today and get reading!

Now That I Have Officially Become A Cosplayer...

Other than some crazy Halloween costumes over the years and a few plays, I have never dressed up in costume for a public event.  Last weekend was my first foray into cosplay and I would be lying if I said that I was totally ok with that.  I was a bundle of nerves.  It's a little different going to a convention were there are hundreds of people who put in countless hours of work and tons of money creating the most amazing and accurate costumes I have ever seen.  I knew my costume had a few inaccuracies (the feathers were hackles instead of coques and I got the wrong wristbands) but I put a lot of time into it and I was pretty happy with the results.  That didn't stop me from being nervous.  J had to reassure me that I looked good on our way to the con because he could see I was ready to back out and go back to the room and just put on jeans and a t-shirt. As I'm sure you read in my previous post, things went better than I ever could have expected.

Here's the problem with that.  My first attempt at cosplay was so successful, I don't know quite how to top it.  I have about 308 days until the next con to figure this out.  My friends have been trying to give me ideas, but I haven't liked any of their suggestions so far.  I'm picky.  I want something that is a little more obscure, yet recognizable. (ie I want people to know what my costume is but I don't want to be one of 400 people dressed the same and be compared to some of those amazing cosplayers out there.)

This is where you come in dear reader.  I need help.  I have a couple of ideas that I'm bandy-ing around and I would like to know what you think.  One is a little bit more obscure (but much loved by it's fans) and the other is a bit of a draping nightmare, but more recognizable.  Here's my thoughts:

Currently in the lead:  Lulu from Final Fantasy X

I have found this one online fore sale, but I really like to make things myself.  I think I could do this one justice, I just have to figure out how to get the belt skirt to drape correctly.  I'm also playing with the idea of making the moogle able to move which is going to take some serious engineering.


Dawn by Joseph Micheal Linsner

I have always wanted to do this one.  I wanted to go to Dragon*con and enter the Dawn Look-a-like contest.  That, sadly, will never happen as they have cancelled the contest after 10+ successful years.  My biggest issue with this one is the armor.  I have researched various ways to make it, but I'm not confident enough to try yet.  Plus if I do this one, J will have to do death and that one is a bit of a nightmare with the skull face and goat horns.  If done properly, it would kick some serious ass. If not...well, I'd rather it not see the light of day of that's the case.

Any thoughts?  Both of these idea will take some major work so I basically need to start drafting right away.  Decisions, decisions.  How does a cosplayer decide?

Calgary Comic Expo 2011

I'm home.  What a fantastic weekend we had!  The con was amazing.  I thought I'd share the weekend with you so you could come along for the ride.

Things started out bad.  We got the news Thursday the George A. Romero was forced to cancel his appearance due to injury.  You see he broke his arm and would be unable to sign any autographs so he decided to cancel.  While I understand the reasons I was a little choked that we had spent money on tickets to the private screening and now we weren't sure what was going to happen.  There was some quick work done on the organizers part and they brought in Linda Blair at short notice and billed a double feature of The Exorcist and Night of the Living Dead.  They also gave you the option of getting a full refund.  We decided to wait and decide with D and R on the way there to see if they wanted to go or get a refund.  We spent the evening Thursday getting our bags packed and triple checking that we didn't forget anything.

Thursday morning we did an extra check of inventory (and yet I still managed to forget my jacket) and hit the road at 11 a.m.  We got everything loaded in the car I asked D and R if they had their tickets.  Good thing I said something because they had forgotten them!  We made a quick detour back to their house and got on the road.  We made Calgary in good time and stopped off at the mall so I could buy some new eyelashes for my costume because I lost the ones I had.  I bought them months ago and put them someplace safe which of course I couldn't remember later.  I found some amazing ones and then we walked the mall for a little bit before going to our hotel to check in.  The hotel was quite nice and very close to the Con.  We probably could have walked there except that we were downtown and I wasn't comfortable with walking through some of the sketchy areas to get there.  We checked in and dropped our bags and headed off to day 1 of the Expo.  I was very pleased with the changes they had made this year.  The layout was better, the lineups for the panels had virtually disappeared because the venues was much larger.  The more popular panels were held in the Corral which can seat around 6000 so no one was turned away.  Once we got in the door we made a bolt for Artists Alley to find Linsner and Cary Nord.  And they weren't there...  We found their tables, but not them.  So we decided to do a little shopping and walk the floor.  While we were shopping an announcement came on that if you had tickets for the Romero screening you could exchange them for tickets to the Masquerade Ball instead.  I was pissed!  We would have done that in a heart beat if we had known before hand but we didn't bring outfits that would have worked for the Ball with us and we were 3 hours from home.  So now it's no Romero, no Linsner and no Masquerade.  This was not shaping up to be a good weekend.  We decided to do all our shopping on Friday because it was much quieter in the hall and the booths were fully stocked.  We came across and awesome t-shirt booth and I got a shirt that says "I'm with flanking bonus" and J got one that says "If you can read this, you just provoked and attack of opportunity".  D got a "Neville would have done it in four books"  I went to the autograph area and collected 2 more Cylons.  Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh) was very sweet.  Micheal Hogan (The XO Saul Tigh) was fraking halarious!  J did some more shopping and we check for Linsner, Nord and Jeph Jacques one more time before we decided to leave.  We were all hungry so we decided to find a place to eat.  We decided to go to this little pub across the street from J's favorite gaming store in Calgary (The Sentry Box).  We shopped a bit there and then had a fantastic meal on the patio of the pub.  This was the point when I realized I had no jacket.  It got a bit chilly but I survived.  Then it was back to the hotel to try to get some rest before the biggest day of the con.

I was like a kid waiting for Christmas morning that night.  I was so tired but I couldn't sleep!  I knew I had to get up extra early to get in costume because there was only one bathroom and 4 of us that needed it.  I got up around 6 and decided to do down to the lobby at 6:30 to get a coffee from Starbucks.  I went back up to started getting ready and J, D and R went down for coffee about half hour after I did.  They come back up and tell me that they were in line behind Micheal Hogan!  Frak!  I can't believe I missed that!  So we all finished getting ready, took a couple of quick pictures and then headed out for the Con.  I was so nervous leaving the hotel because my costume was a bit revealing and people in the lobby where staring at me like crazy.  I almost lost me nerve and went back up to the room to change, but I decided that I would be ok once I got there and was around other geeks who would stare in a good way. I thought maybe a few people here and there would "get" my costume but I was overwhelmed with the response!

The finished product!

We arrived around 9 a.m. (advanced tickets holders got in at 9:30) and the line was huge!  It was much better organized than last year and it moved very quickly once the door opened.  In less than a minute walking through the doors people were already asking if they could take my picture.  I was shocked!  I couldn't believe how many Repo! fans there were.  Not only did people get what I was, they loved it!  This was the first person to ask to take a pic of me.  He was a real sweetie!

Photo Op while waiting in line with the cutest Ash ever.

Once we got inside we decided to walk the floor and check out other people's costumes.  We found out quickly that if you stopped walking or even slowed down for a moment you would get mobbed for pictures. We did each manage to find someone else there who was wearing the same costume as us and get a pic.  One of the convention organizers even ran up to me and awarded me a costume prize.

Found another Blind Mag!

Tron!  Let the games begin.

Galactica Crew

J's doppleganger was so excited to meet him.  Ah, the hero of Canton.

We went to the Battlestar Galactica panel at 11 with Kate Vernon and Micheal Hogan.  It was good but not as entertaining as last years panel.  I found it very hard to sit so I didn't want to do to many panels and there was a very annoying family in front of us that just let the squeaky shoed child run around the whole time.  People, they provided a daycare for this very reason!  After the panel we tried one more to to find Linsner only to find out his sign had been taken down and someone else took over his booth.  J did managed to find Cary Nord and get his Conan autographed and we finally tracked down Jeph Jacques and bought 2 copies of his book.  So many people were complimenting my costume J, D and R decided that they were going to register me for the costume contest.  I protested but they insisted.  We went to the booth but they told us they were full up on registration.  Shucks!  I guess I won't have to go onstage in front of several thousand people.  At 3:00 we went to the William Shatner panel.  Unfortunately it didn't get started until 3:30 or so due to the back up at Photo Ops.  He was funny as predicted and even managed to turn the stupid questions people asked into something else.  He did come across as a little arrogant at times, particularly when he basically dissed the InnerSpace boys who were moderating asking them what they were doing there.  His panel ran a little overtime which was good since he did start late, but he was a little put out when they said he had 10 more minutes.  After the panel we walked the floor some more, took more pics with people and chilled a bit before going back to watch the costume contest.  I must say, most of the entries in the contest where amazing! Some of the stand outs for me where Iron Man, Spawn, Master Chief, and Kneesocks.  There were so many amazing costumes there!  The major downside to the Costume contest was the sheer amount of Batman villains (I felt bad for them because the crowd got really tired of another Batman entry)and the fact that we were subject to almost 45 minutes of terrible improv while the judges deliberated.  I had heard that the improv troop The 404's were really good, but I (and the rest of the crowd) was less than impressed.  The costume contest ended after the expo was closed for the night so we headed back to the hotel to change and have a quick bite to eat before heading out to the private screening of The Exorcist.

The movie was screened in this really neat old theatre that used to be a garage but was converted to a movie theatre in the 1930's. They even served popcorn with real butter!  And for a reasonable price too.  Before Linda Blair came in they staff requested that all cell phones and video camera's be turned off or else she wouldn't come.  This may sound strange, but she explained her reason for this.  She felt that we had paid for a private show and therefore she wanted it to just be between her and those of us that paid and not show up on youtube for the world to see.  She shared some pretty interesting things with us that she doesn't often speak about in the more public venues.  The most interesting thing she shared was the story of how she was injured on the set of the film.  I will respect her wishes and keep most of her stories to myself but I did want to share this with you because it changed the way I viewed the film

This scene contains a revolutionary camera shot which lead the way for steady cams as well as has the actual footage in which her back was broken.  There was a malfunction with the apparatus and the result was very real screams to "make it stop"  I choose to just link to the video instead of having it on here because I know a lot of people find this film very disturbing.  I did like that fact that Linda Blair made it clear that this is not a horror film, it's a theological thriller.  I was very glad to have had the chance to watch it with fresh eyes and to see the rare 35mm writer's cut of the film.  Unfortunately due to the late start of the film and the extended cut it was after midnight before they were even getting ready to load the second film so we decided to call it a night.

J and I decided to wear our costumes one more time since they were so popular.  D opted out since her costume didn't survive the day very well and it was extremely hot.  R decided not to because one of the joints in his elbow had frayed and he spent most of Saturday getting electrocuted whenever he moved his left arm.  D decided to bring her camera and follow me around taking pictures of people taking pictures of us.  We were curious how many times we got stopped for pics in a day so we took pictures every time someone else did.  She even got pictures of people who thought they were being sneaky and taking them from afar.  By the time the day was over she had taken over 200 shots.  It was much slower on Sunday so we figure there must be at least 500 out there from the day before.  We watched the zombies vs super heroes roller derby for a bit (cool) and then went to see the Pinky and the Brian vs the Animaniacs panel.  This was one of the highlights from the weekend.  I loved that they started out by reading a scene from The Princess Bride in some of their most popular voices.

This is the panel.  I know it's long but it's totally worth it.  We then went to the Jonathan Frakes panel.  He was very good and I enjoyed listening to it but it became clear that we were about conventioned out.  We did one last walk of the floor before changing out of costume, doing some last quick shopping and then hitting the road for home.  It was an amazing weekend and I can't wait until next year to do it again.  Now to come up with a costume to top this one....

Here's a few of my favorite shots from the weekend: