Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Our first holiday party

Since the Chief and I didn't travel for Christmas this year, we actually decorated (our first Christmas tree in years!) and even had a party Friday night.  I hadn't expected so many people (anyone, really) to bring gifts of wine - we started the evening with 7 bottles of red wine, for example, and ended up with 12!  This despite people actually drinking the wine we had on offer.  We could have at least 2 more parties without having to buy a single bottle!  Very little beer was drunk, either; the Chief had bought a goodly variety, very little of which was consumed.

Leftover food was easier; the cookies went to friends' house the next day (they were having a holiday brunch w/ optional cookie exchange), and we didn't have all that much left of the savory stuff - maybe 1 cup of dill dip, no more than 2 cups of hummus, and enough salmon spread and salsa for a nice Christmas Eve dinner. 😊  Some of the veggies got sauteed to accompany our Christmas lamb chops, and most of the rest went into a big pot of veggie-beef soup I made last night.

Next time we won't have to spend nearly as much on party supplies - we won't have to buy anything but food, as we have MORE than enough alcohol for at least one more party, maybe 2 or 3.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

No opera chorus next semester

Back at the end of October, I learned they were looking for a few folks to fill out the chorus for next semester's operas (Orfeo and Orphee aux Enfers).  I was surprised that they just posted a sign-up sheet instead of holding auditions, but of course we all had to audition for our various choruses, so maybe they went from that.  I was the first to sign up as one of the mezzo volunteers, which meant I had that much longer to wait.  Yesterday 2 other mezzo volunteers and I finally got the "thanks but no thanks" email.

I'm a little disappointed, of course, but only a little, because the rehearsal schedule would be a pain - Fridays 4-6 pm, adding in Saturday morning rehearsals as you get closer to production. I'm also not very surprised - given the quality of the voices around me in chorus, the competition was pretty stiff.  And of course now I'll get to enjoy it from the audience. 😃

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving experiments

No, I didn't get all wild & crazy and cook up something I've never even tasted.  (I've done that; shirin polo, anyone?)  I did play a little with how I cooked the turkey, and with the pumpkin pie recipe.

I had seen something on line suggesting using carrots, celery ribs, and quartered onions for a rack on which to roast the turkey.  Sounded like a good idea, so that's what I did.

That's Mom's turkey roaster, which she gave me for (birthday? Christmas?) several years ago.  It's seen many a turkey, most of them twice the size of the little 11-pounder we were roasting for the two of us.  Here's that turkey on its veggie bed:

And here's that turkey after a few hours in the oven, on its bed of veggies which are now full of turkey juices:

Doesn't that look pretty?  Tasted good, too - good and moist, because I roasted it breast down.

In case you're wondering, we've already had the first turkey sandwiches (I had to buy bread and lettuce), much of the remaining meat is off the bone (turkey tetrazzini coming up later this week), and the carcass is in a pot with those "roasting rack" veggies, making soup.  That's one experiment that was a complete success - veggies make a great roasting rack!

The other experiment was to tinker with the pumpkin pie.  First, I decided to try a no-roll pie crust recipe.  I got it from the King Arthur Flour site, which rarely steers me wrong.  The crust was OK, but not particularly flaky, a bit on the dense side, and in general not one I'll use again.  I had to use canned pumpkin because I never got a chance to buy a pumpkin to cook and freeze for baking.  My grandmother's recipe calls for 1 cup of pumpkin, but of course a 15-oz can holds more like 1 3/4 cups.  I decided to use the whole can; not a bad choice, but I prefer the 2-1 half-and-half-to-pumpkin ratio of the recipe.  I also added 1/4 tsp of garam masala to the cinnamon and ginger the recipe calls for.  That was a bit too spicy that evening, but by the next day the spice had moderated, so I may do that again.

Instead of regular mashed potatoes, I tried the Hungry Girl mashies recipe.  (I made a triple batch in order to use the entire head of cauliflower.)  The results were runny (next time I'll use half the water) but delicious!  When we go through what's in the fridge and I have to pull out the half batch I put in the freezer, I'll find out how well it freezes.  Potatoes and cauliflower tend to freeze well, but the light sour cream and cream cheese might not.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Testing my sight-singing skills

This was the 3rd Sunday running that I've covered a Methodist church gig for a colleague who had to leave town to be with her dying mother.  (What could I say when she asked but "Yes, of course!")  This morning the lead tenor tapped me to join him in the pulpit to lead the offertory hymns.  The first one was an old favorite, but the second one was one I'd never heard before.  Just imagine - I'm up there in front of God and everybody, with a mic 12" from my mouth as I sight-sing a hymn I was completely  unfamiliar with!

Two things saved me - Ian was singing the melody loud and strong, and it was a 19th-century hymn, so I could do a lot of successful guessing.  Naturally, I had to tease Ian about it in the choir room afterwards.  😄

I never thought much of my sight-singing skills, but maybe I'm better at it than I thought.  Not on a par with the music majors I rub shoulders with at school, but perhaps not as bad at it as I think I am.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The dream isn't dead after all; at least not yet

It turns out that, because I'm taking voice lessons with a grad student in the School of Music, the pre-screening audition requirement is waived!  I wish I'd known that before I paid for an accompanist, but that's secondary to the main point - this means it doesn't matter that none of the recordings were usable!  Wahoo!  Now I can fill out my application, attach the recording waiver video they sent me, and schedule my live audition for sometime in January.  Two more months to get my audition pieces and my technique whipped into shape - pray for me!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Callbacks (mooooo)

Tonight they had the callbacks for the first of next semester's main-stage productions.  I learned from a classmate who works in the production office that they called back everyone who auditioned.  No wonder the numbers were so huge!  There were 47 of us tonight, and 53 for the other show for which I'm called back.  I'll probably bow out of consideration for that other one; it's too close to the end of the semester, with papers to write and exams to study for.

They told us before they started having us read that we'd have to do a British accent.  Sure woulda been nice to know that earlier, but oh well.  At least all but one of us (a British exchange student) are in the same boat in that respect.  I have no idea how I did relative to anyone else being considered for the same role, though I don't think I read badly.  Now the waiting begins; I hope they're able to post the cast list soon.  As Rose Maybud would say, "leave no one in unnecessary suspense."

So much for being a music major

I was less than thrilled with how I sang last night.  This evening I got the first file of 4 (2 takes of each of my two pieces); I couldn't bear to listen to the whole thing.  SO many things I didn't like about it; there's no way they'd want to hear me in person.

Disappointing & discouraging, but...  First of all, that means I'll graduate next December instead of 2019 or later, saving me a buncha money.  There are other places I can study music theory and take piano lessons, with none of the pressure of an academic setting.  The only problem is, I'll have to figure out that much sooner what I'm gonna do with myself all day. :D

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Good voice lesson, right before another big audition

Later this afternoon I'll record another music school pre-screening audition.  Yesterday's voice lesson was surprisingly productive.  I'd gone in feeling a bit cruddy (ah, seasonal allergies), but C assured me I was doing well - in good voice, breathing well, good energy.

I had an "aha!" moment when she had me working an exercise to loosen the root of my tongue (because tension anywhere in the vocal production tract is killer!).  I realized that my tongue was tensing up upon my inhalation unless I remembered my back breathing (i.e., expanding my full rib cage on the inhalation).  Another reason to do that back breathing!

Coincidentally, my Voice for the Actor prof had just introduced tongue exercises on Wednesday, including one to release tongue tension.  I love it when my various classes dovetail!  It's like I'm triangulating on good technique, reinforcing it from multiple angles.

Similarly, what both C andd my TA voice teacher have said about sustaining energy through a vocal line just got a boost from the energy exercises my Voice teacher had us do in class on Monday, to sustain energy through and past the end of a line.  All good!

C got a call from her mother during my lesson that she had to take.  Once she got off the phone, she explained that there was a completely unacceptable situation in her mother's building that the family was addressing.  When she explained the situation, I was livid for her mother's sake.  We then joked about "OK, now caress your lover's pillow" as I prepared to run through my other song.  Maybe it was having my blood boiling, but boy, was my energy good for that song! :D  I may have to use that trick this afternoon.

I'm trying not to get too worked up about this.  I need to relax (hah - as if!), breathe, remember the main technical points I've worked on since I did this last year, breathe some more, and, most importantly, enjoy the music.  After all, I picked these pieces because I liked them and knew I could live with them for months (or, in the case of one, over a year).  Now they're old friends; I need to sing them with that love.

If nothing else, I'm bound to do better than last year.  That was discouraging - back to singing only a week after taking about 3 weeks off because those blasted seasonal allergies were making singing actually painful.  This year I'm healthy (knock wood), and I've got an additional year of technical work, practice, and coaching under my belt.

I plan to get to campus early, find a practice room, and review all the technical and textual points I want to perform, do some loosening-up exercises, and maybe even get myself to relax a bit so I can enjoy singing these pieces.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

This class is gonna kick my butt

One of the classes I'm taking this semester is called Rendering for the Theater I.  It's intended to teach basic drawing and sketching techniques to people interested in theater design (mostly costumes, but also sets).  After just 2 classes, I'm already feeling the pressure.  The instructor moves at quite a good clip!  She has 2 grad students to help her, and there are only about 10 or 12 of us in the class, so not a lot of competition for the TAs' time, but this is my first-ever drawing class and it's got me intimidated!

I'll just keep reminding myself of last semester's Scene Painting class.  I survived that one, I'll survive this one.  And that instructor suggested I take this class.  I don't think she'd have pointed me to a class I'd flunk out of. :)

Extra pay

Maybe this is just how the system works, but I got paid for a full 8 hours for that short (3 hours) extra gig I worked.  That was a nice surprise; it means I didn't lose money that day after all, which is never a bad thing.

Having some good singing stuff lately

About a month ago, I started noticing I was having the same throat-clenching when singing that put me on vocal rest last October, just as I was about to record my music school preliminary audition.  However, I've managed to have 2 good auditions despite that - one for the university choruses (everyone has to reaudition every year), the other for the School of Music's voice minor series (finding "guinea pigs" to take lessons from vocal pedagogy grad students).

I think some of it is getting better at remembering all the technical stuff that keeps me vocally healthy.  I've also been shaken up by having to take lessons from my two previous voice teachers while my current teacher deals with some other things.  That reminded me of some things I'd covered with them years and years ago.  And maybe I'd gotten just a bit too comfortable working with my current teacher, so this forced me to look at other aspects of this whole singing thing.

All of it makes me feel a lot better about this year's attempt to get into the School of Music.  I finally have a lesson with my current teacher this Friday.  Depending on what she recommends, I may end up recording this audition in September, not October (deadline is 1 Nov.) so I can relax a bit while I wait to hear whether they want me to come for a live audition.  Wish me luck!

I got that paid singing gig back this spring, and my voice teacher just emailed me about a section-leader sub job in a coupla weeks.  Just a one-time thing, late enough in the morning that I'll still be able to sing with my own choir, and it's Catholic, so I already know the order of service.  Now to call the music director and hope they haven't already filled it.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Extra quick

Wednesday's extra gig was nothing like the first one.  First of all, there was confusion about check-in.  I reported at site A, as instructed in the email, but the gate guard didn't have my name on his list and sent me to site B.  I drove over there, found someone to check in with, who asked me if I'd checked in and had a fitting yet.  I explained I'd been sent to B from A, so the gentleman found a shuttle driver to take me back to site A for a fitting.  We got there in time to meet the costume designer about to leave for B.  She told us I was indeed supposed to be at B, not A.  Back into the shuttle to B.  By this time, the driver and I were getting quite comfortable with each other and he was warming up on the topic of his hometown football team.

Anyway, so once we'd established that I did indeed need to be at B, not A, for a fitting, Kelly came & approved my suit, but I guess my white top was a little too bright for camera, and my jewelry not conservative enough.  I got to follow her to her trailer, a mobile costume closet, where she found me a dark purplish top to wear and a pair of very small clip-on hoop earrings.  I was then escorted to one of a group of tall director's-style chairs, where Gina fixed my makeup and Adele made my hair presentable.  (Because it needed to look decent, of course it looked a disaster.)  The production assistant, or PA, let me know I was welcome to help myself to "crafty" - the table of food & drink laid out for crew and cast - but I didn't want to mess up my lipstick or get food in my teeth before going on camera.

More confusion:  I was supposed to be one of 2 or 3 "telecom heads".  The PA told me I had a line to learn.  This was news to me!  He gave me his copy of the day's script, showed me the pertinent line, and left me to it.  Apparently something changed somewhere along the line and he didn't get the word, as "Telecom 1" got all the lines (all 2 or 3 of them).  Not a big deal, of course, as I hadn't expected to have any lines.

When they were ready for me, they took me into the shooting area and had me sit on a stool in front of a green screen.  They explained that I'd be a frozen Skype image (scenario was that I was Skyping into a conference call ).  Sound was told not to bother recording.  They positioned me at the desired angle, set a small laptop in front of me off camera, and started filming.  They had me talk a bit, then count down from 100 "with authority".  While I did so, they would have me "look over here; now back at the lens. ... Over here again; back at the lens. ... Now look this way.  Good.  Back to the lens. ... Glance down at the laptop and tap the space bar a coupla times" and so on.  After a few minutes of that, they thanked me and that was it.

I went back to the holding room, changed back into my own top, hunted down Kelly so I could return her top and earrings.  The crew were just starting to dig into lunch, but I'd already been signed out and didn't feel right sticking around, so I loaded my things into my car and left just 3 hours after I first arrived.  My voucher showed my official time as 2 hours & 45 minutes; MUCH shorter than the first gig!  It was further away, too, and involved tolls.  I joked with the Chief that, by the time I bought myself lunch at a nearby Mexican place (some fabulous grilled-shrimp tacos!), I actually lost money working the gig.  That's OK; it was interesting enough to be worth it.

This time they were in an industrial park.  Site B is where they were shooting; it was your typical building, with offices and rooms of varying sizes along the front and a HUGE warehouse space along the back.  Part of the warehouse space is apparently where they do the actual filming, with the rest being storage and staging area.  One wall was floor to ceiling with shelves full of desks!  There were also a few partial "buildings" and other architectural elements there.  While waiting for them to be ready for me, I wandered over to check out the construction.  These pieces were built to last - very substantial floors for the platforms, and 4x4s for some of the uprights.  What most intrigued me, though, was the way the walls were built.  Theater flats are typically 4' wide and 12' tall, built from 1x4s, with cross pieces (toggles) at the 4' and 8' points.  These flats were built with 1x3s, with upright pieces and toggles every foot, so that they looked like 1-foot boxes from a distance.  I was dying to ask why they're built that way but didn't want to interrupt anyone.  Maybe my Stagecraft instructor would know; I'll have to ask...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Self-indulgent weekend

Because the Chief is in heavy-duty study mode (the US Tax Court exam is just 3 months away), I've been looking around for excuses to stay out of the house so he can study with fewer distractions.  This weekend was perfect for that - I spent Saturday at a G&S sing an hour's drive away, giving him nearly 12 distraction-free hours.  Sunday was another 6 hours, as I headed off to a Regency bonnet-making workshop.  I didn't get my bonnet finished, but I did get a good start on it, along with a very pretty bit of ribbon and some ideas for decorating it once I finish wiring the brim.  The workshop was at a tea room in a little antique shop out near hunt country.  It was a tiny little village, which would make a nice day trip once the Chief gets past The Exam.

Gotta love it - I was able to indulge not just one but two hobbies without feeling guilty about "abandoning" the Chief.  No, I was doing him a favor, giving him so many distraction-free study hours. :)

The first family wedding!

Last month the first of my siblings' children got married!  How and when did he get to be old enough?!?  Anyway, he & his new bride have known each other for 8 or 9 years, so it isn't as though they married in haste.  It was a lovely ceremony; LOTS of readings, nice music, the bride's gown was beautifully elegant, and the groom was grinning ear to ear. :)  The reception was nice, too.  The music was a bit loud for my taste (I loathe having to raise my voice to be heard), but because the newlyweds are both dancers, it was VERY danceable!  I got to dance with both the groom and my brother, though not terribly skillfully.  The floor was just a tiny bit slick, and I had trouble following because it's been years since I've danced with C, and the groom & I had never danced together before.  Didn't matter; we had fun, and the bride got a couple of funny pictures of J & me out on the dance floor.

His brother is getting married in October.  Another dance couple, so that should be a fun reception too.

The two couples have already started a family game night, and their marital homes are only about 5 minutes apart.  The bride who's an only child will now have siblings and the bride whose siblings live in the next state will now have siblings close by.  I love it! :)

Extra again

I've learned that a phone call asking about my availability doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to be booked for that date.  However, I got another call tonight asking about my availability for Wednesday.    Sure, I can make that.  The gentleman then called back to confirm that they do indeed want to book me for Wednesday.  He then called back twice more about wardrobe details, and to let me know that they want me to approximate as much as possible the way I wore my hair when I went to the open call last year.  Wearing the same suit is easy; duplicating the hairstyle could be trickier (it doesn't curl as much as it did last year, for some odd reason), but I'll do my best.

The last time the gentleman called, he apologized for calling so many times.  I thought to myself, "Hey, it makes me feel loved and wanted!"  :D

Getting ready for the fall semester

I cheerfully admit it; I'm like a kid with a new toy, with all this back-to-school stuff.  I happened to poke around a little on the university's site tonight and saw that the professor for my Intro to Stage Management class has posted the syllabus and textbook list.  I did the 21st-century thing and spent at least half an hour on line comparing prices.  This site was very helpful for that.  The range of prices continues to amaze me; one site offered one of the texts for at least $15 more than I ended up paying for both of them, including shipping!

Now I'm itching for my other classes to create their pages for the Fall semester and post the textbook requirements so I can order 'em in time for the first day of class.  I'm starting to get eager for the start of the new semester; you'd think it was my first, not my third. :D

Easy come, easy go

It turns out I won't be "extra-ing" tomorrow after all.  The phone call I got the other day led me to believe I would be; obviously I'm still learning how the BG booking process works.  I'll just keep my eyes open for future opportunities.

Hebe! Who the deuce may she be?

My next show will be another Gilbert & Sullivan - HMS Pinafore, this time, as Cousin Hebe.  I missed the initial read-through, ironically because I was singing Hebe at an all-day G&S sing.  My first rehearsal will be this Saturday - can't wait!  I'm always eager for the first rehearsal of a new show, and this one will be interesting because the company generally does Broadway classics, not G&S.  I wonder if this will be like my last Mikado, also with a non-G&S company, in that I'll get to see a whole new group laugh at Gilbert's jokes and discover Sullivan's music.

The director told me at callbacks that she'll be relying on me and the MD to help her with her lack of G&S experience.  I take that to mean she trusts me not to be a know-it-all about it. :)  She's also counting on me to help with set building & painting.  Can't wait!

No summer class after all :(

I was all psyched up to take Hair & Wigs for the Stage this month - ordered my book the same day I signed up for the class, so I had it in hand weeks ahead of time.  Then, a few days before the first day of class, I got an email telling me the class was canceled for insufficient enrollment.  Waaah!

At the Chief's suggestion, I reached out to the instructor about similar classes elsewhere, or intern/apprentice opportunities.  She was very gracious, noting that she freelances and therefore can't make any promises, but would keep me in mind for future shows.  She let me know that most professionals start out with a cosmetology license.  Turns out that's rather expensive training - $15K-$17K for 12-15 months of school.  The instructor said the university plans to offer the class again (hopefully with more notice, instead of waiting until June to set it up), so I'll won't be signing up for cosmetology school anytime soon.

Extra quick!

The check for my extra gig arrived today, a week to the day after I was on set - $111.48 after taxes.  Extra work isn't the sort of thing you put on a resume, but it pays, and the novelty hasn't worn off yet, so I'll continue to keep an eye out for further opportunities that fit into my schedule.  It'll be harder to do that once classes resume two weeks from today, and I'll have rehearsals to work around as well, but since I don't have to pay the bills this way, it isn't critical.  (Yes, I realize how very blessed I am to have landed a job that doesn't just pay a pension, but pays one I can actually live on.)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Extra, extra; read all about it!

Had my first-ever TV extra gig on Monday.  Last summer I'd responded to an open call by a professional casting company, which got me in their database and on their email list.  However, Monday was the first call for extras that I'd been able to show up for.

This being my first time, I showed up not really knowing what to expect beyond that I should plan to be there 12+ hours.  (It turned out to be 13.5 by the time I checked out that night.)  As instructed, I wore one wardrobe option suitable for the scene and packed 2 or 3 more options.  Fortunately, Wardrobe liked what I wore so I pulled my "entertainment" and a pair of flip-flops out of my suitcase, put them into my tote, and locked my suitcase in my car.

We had been instructed to report to a church parking lot, where they had trailers set up for Wardrobe, Hair & Makeup, and a few others (crew rooms?).  Once we'd checked in, been cleared by Wardrobe and Hair & Makeup, we boarded a shuttle to the shooting location, where we were directed to a great big tent (air-conditioned, thank heaven!) - Holding. They had a small breakfast buffet set up for us, and a constant supply of 4-oz water bottles.  There was also a small trailer with 3 little restroom cubicles.  I was expecting a porta-potty; not so!  These were actually rather nice-looking - they were decorated!  They had "paneling", a pergo-style floor, a flush toilet (presumably into some sort of tank, given that it was a trailer), a framed mirror over the sink, and even a framed picture anchored to one wall.  Three cubicles weren't really sufficient for our numbers (150?  200?), but at least they didn't stink, despite the August heat.

I was reasonably well prepared for my wait.  I had a tote full of crossword puzzles, some music to look over (most of which I didn't touch), and my flip-flops to wear in Holding instead of the heels I'd bought for the occasion.  Boy, was I sorry by the end of the day that I hadn't had time to break those new shoes in at all!  I wasn't the only one with spare footwear, either; I saw at least 2 women wearing very comfy-looking slippers in Holding.

We got a "pre-lunch" of sandwiches and sides (apples, bananas, granola bars) around 11, and a hot lunch starting around 1 or 1:30.  They announced the order - crew first!  The union performers would be next in line, with non-union performers going after the crew & union folks had filled their plates.  Some of the people who'd done these before said that working as an extra often amounts to getting paid to sit around and eat.

Those extras (called "background", or BG) in military uniforms were called first.  Mid-morning, they took about half the rest of us for an exterior scene.  It wasn't until 2:30 or 3 that they called all of us for the final scene to be shot that day.  They herded us all into the church, where we sat while they tweaked some technical things, and even tweaked a few of us (Wardrobe adjusted collars, brushed away fuzzies, etc., while Hair fixed a coupla women's tresses and Makeup powdered a few scalps so they wouldn't gleam).  They then ran the same short scene over, and over, and over, until I imagine most of us could recite the one principal's lines right along with her.  They adjusted the lighting and sound equipment, herded us first off to a corner, then back to Holding while they got it just right, and brought us all back.  They then ran the same scene, or tiny parts of it, several more times.  Each time, I think they tweaked some light or sound setting, or changed a camera angle.  For some of the runs, they had stand-ins come in for the principals.  (I wonder if that's to give the principals a union-required break, or the stand-ins some union-required work?)  In the end, it took about 5 hours to shoot a scene that ran only a couple of minutes.  Quite a difference from stage work, where you run a scene pretty much straight through, and don't have to worry about camera angles.

I was interested to see how very many crew they had.  Because we were told to stay out of their way & let them do their jobs, I couldn't exactly ask what they were doing or "What's this for?"  Still, it was interesting to see how very many different versions of tool belts & kits they were wearing and what they were stocked with - gaff tape, scissors, safety pins, makeup brushes, multi-tools...  One surprise was when they were adjusting the canopy overhead from which several cables were hung.  They started tugging on it and it moved!  It turned out to be a big, inflated rectangle!  They used several guide lines to move it over to a side section of the church; rather reminded me of the people who "walk" the big character balloons in the Thanksgiving Day parade.

Some of us were issued various props.  If you received a prop, you had to surrender an ID - something you'd definitely want to get back.  You got your ID back when you returned the prop at the end of the day.  That was just the first step in the check-out process.  Once you'd turned in any props you'd been issued and gotten your ID back, you got on one of the shuttles to go back to the church parking lot where we'd checked in.  Then we all stood in a long, slow line to finish filling out the forms we'd gotten at check-in, get checked off their list, and be sent home.  Filling out the form wasn't the boilerplate exercise you might think.  The several copies were not all the same form!  They were all stuck together as if they were multiple copies of the same form, when in fact the last 2 pages were a different form, that you had to fill out front & back.  No wonder the line was moving so slowly - none of us first-timers expected two different forms to be stuck together!

I'm already scheduled for another extra gig on Tuesday.  This time I'll have a better idea of what to expect.  For one thing, I won't be wearing brand-new heels for the first time!  Based on what I was told, I think I can get away with a pantsuit, which means flats, which means I won't have to take spare footwear for Holding.   I'll still take my suit w/ skirt as one of my wardrobe alternates, but will cross my fingers that Wardrobe will OK the pantsuit.  I'll also know how to fill out my paperwork this time, and will be sure to do that while I'm in Holding waiting to be called, instead of in the check-out line, in the dark.

It's only been a week, so I haven't gotten my paycheck yet, but one of the "pros" was saying extras get paid something like $88 for 8 (8 1/2?) hours, then time and a half for any time after that.  Apparently you don't get paid for the half-hour lunch break (the 8.5 hours?).  If that's accurate, that would mean I worked 4.5 hours at time and a half.  That works out to $74.25 for the overtime, plus $88 equals $162.25.  I wonder how much of that gets taken out for taxes...

I think the hardest part was probably sitting on set, as the pews in the church they were using were not very comfortable after an hour, and we were there much longer than that.  I was exhausted by the end of the day (about an hour's drive each way on top of a 13-hour day), so I didn't offer to work any of the calls later this week.  However, I did get myself booked for this Tuesday, so you can see that I didn't hate it.  We'll see what they have us doing that day.  I heard some good stories in Holding.  One VERY tall guy regaled us with stories of playing some sorta monster or Viking or something in some movie.  They rigged him up with a wig & beard and even built some sort of fur-lined cape that he had to wear for the fight scenes, which were filmed on a beach.  He said it was a week-long shoot, hard work - not just swinging whatever weapon he had, but wearing that cape, which he said got really heavy when it was wet - and that he loved it.  Another woman said that one gig she worked consisted of running a short distance, over & over & over again, along with a bunch of other people.

As I told some of my fellow extras, signing up for this has made me look at TV shows & movies with new eyes.  All those street scenes, scenes in clubs or restaurants or gyms or what-have-you, all need a LOT of people to make them look realistic.  Nobody particularly distinctive, just average janes & joes to "lend an air of verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative."  Just call me Vera Similitude. :)

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Having a lovely long weekend so far

The Chief & I are having a lovely Fourth weekend at the cabin.  The weather is so cool that I actually put on a (light) sweater this morning - it was only about 65 degrees when I left for an early-morning grocery run.  That's at least 15 degrees cooler than usual for this time of year, and not a patch on the years when the highs were regularly in triple digits (and no a/c at the cabin!).  It's lovely - we've got the windows open and are enjoying the birdsong.

Our huge rhododendron bush is in bloom and is very popular with the eastern tiger swallowtails.  Birds also love to hang out (and hide) in it, and this year we have new visitors, who have built a nest atop the bend of a nearby downspout.  So far I've only seen a glimpse of nestling wing or head; with luck, we'll get to see an actual baby bird before we leave.  I haven't figured out yet what kind of birds they are, but I'm sure the internet will help us identify them.

At the Chief's urging, I packed up my electronic keyboard and schlepped it out here so I could practice my fingerings more than once or twice before my next piano lesson.  I was also "encouraged" to do so by the knowledge that I'll be out of town again next weekend, for the first of two family weddings this year, and won't have access to a keyboard for the 5 days I'll be gone.  I sure hope my piano teacher doesn't dock my grade for that. ;)  It's actually kind of nice practicing here.  I set the keyboard up in the upstairs bedroom, where I have a decent amount of space, plenty of light, and am right under both the ceiling fan and a window, so it doesn't get too stuffy.  I can also close the bedroom door so I don't disturb the Chief if he's trying to study (yes, he brought his exam prep materials) or watch tv.

We're having 4 friends over for dinner tonight and some neighbors over for dinner tomorrow.  In both cases we'll be grilling; we also grilled chicken for dinner last night, so the grill is definitely getting a workout this weekend.  I enjoy standing in the kitchen fixing whatever side dishes we'll be having while the aroma of mesquite or hickory floats in through the open windows.  Yummm...

Monday, June 20, 2016

I hadn't *planned* to take any classes over the summer but...

The department advisor sent out an email on Friday announcing summer class offerings.  Nearly all were the same ones we'd been told about as the spring semester was ending, but one was new - Hair & Wigs for the Stage.  It's an intense schedule - 4 hours a day, 4 days a week, for 3 weeks.  Three credit hours crammed into 3 weeks - whew!  I hadn't planned to take any summer classes, and of course they cost tuition, but it gets me 3 credits closer to graduation and I'll be able to apply the knowledge almost immediately in one community theater production or another.

I just ordered the textbook.  Not cheap, but it's a brand-new (2015) hardback, it got rave reviews, and I know I'll use it long after the class is over, so I look on it as an investment.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Getting ready for more music learning...

This afternoon I met with the head of the Voice department at school, who answered all but my admin questions about becoming a Voice major or minor.  She also recommended taking piano, so that's what I'm gonna do.  It's always been on my "things to do once I retire" list, so on the way home, I stopped by a local music school and signed myself up for piano lessons!

I'm taking it slow:  just 6 weeks of 30-minute lessons, but it'll include ear training and theory, so I'll have lots to keep my brain as well as my fingers busy this summer!  I start 2 weeks from yesterday - can't wait!  I'll never get to Mom's level - I'm starting MUCH too late - but if I can learn to play well enough to learn new songs and maybe even accompany myself a little, I'll be delighted.

They asked if I want to participate in the end-of-session recital.  After just 6 weeks of lessons, in my whole life, ever?  No way!  As I told them, I don't want to subject the audience to my baby rendition of Mary Had a Little Lamb or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

This was NOT on my To Do list when I left the house this morning, so I'm still getting used to the idea that I'm actually, finally gonna be taking piano lessons.  When I told the Chief when I got home, he was happy that I'll finally be learning to play the electronic keyboard I bought several years ago and which has essentially been a very large, very expensive pitchpipe and metronome.  We'll see how happy he is once I start practicing scales and fingerings and my Piano 001 arrangement of Mary Had a Little Lamb or what-have-you. :D

I can't help thinking of Mom.  I'm sure she'd be delighted that I'm doing this.  And she won't have to listen to my halting scales.  The Chief will, poor guy - pray for his sanity! :D

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It's the little things

I made some cream cheese, cucumber & dill sandwiches for church function the other day.  Still have some cucumber & cream cheese left over, so I had a nice little sandwich for lunch.  Lotsa dill, cucumber still crunchy - a nice lunch for a sunny summer day (when I finally spotted one of the hummingbirds who've been visiting our feeder).

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Grade update, in case you were wondering

I did indeed get straight As for a second semester!  Woohoo!  I checked the transcript for my first BA; the only semester I got straight As was my final one, when I was only taking 11 credit hours.  Learning how to plan things out so I didn't find myself doing everything at the last minute has been a very handy life lesson (even if I still had problems with things taking longer than I'd anticipated).  ;)

This fall will probably be another 14-hour semester:  Voice for the Actor I, History of Theater I, Intro to Stage Management, and Rendering for the Theater I (I'm waitlisted, but will show up the first day of class and hope for the best; it worked this spring) are all 3-credit classes.  My one-credit practicum in the Scene shop (only the 2nd half of the semester, sadly) and Chorale will bring me up to 14.  

I have to audition for Chorale and that won't happen until the beginning of the semester, but I'm optimistic I'll be able to get in.  However, if they don't want to let the upper voices grossly outnumber the men, as happened this spring, I could have a problem.  Unless they ask me to sing tenor; I did have lotsa low Fs in the Monteverdi we sang in the Spring concert.  TBD...

First paid acting gig!

Friday was the taping for my first paid acting gig, and my first film work.  An organization affiliated with the university was taping mock interviews for a FEMA project.  I had two weeks to memorize about a 4-page script, then do the taping.  That was surprisingly quick - they only did 2 takes, so I was outta there in half an hour, including paperwork (signing a release, making sure my contact info was correct - that sorta thing).  I wasn't happy with my memorization - that first off-book rehearsal is never perfect! - but they were pleased and impressed, so I guess that's what matters.

I asked for a copy of "my" interview for reference purposes.  They have to add a disclaimer or something, since it isn't their project, but said I should get something from them in about 6 weeks, more or less.

Not sure I'm looking forward to watching myself talk into a camera for 10 mins., but it's one more bullet for my acting resume.

"Feed the birds"

Feeding the birds can be fun, though it costs considerably more than "tuppence a bag"!  I put out the thistle seed this spring and we've been delighted to get some bright yellow little birdies as frequent guests.  The squirrels still probably get more of the sunflower seeds than any birds do, though I have noticed more cardinals around than before I put out the sunflower seed.  Can't tell whether the hummingbirds are paying attention to their feeder, but I'll give it another week or two before I give up.

All this is to say that I broke down and made a BIG online purchase of bird feed last week - 30 or 40 lbs. each of sunflower seeds and "finch mix", the latter to replace the crappy, dust-filled mix we'd bought at the military exchange.  (It was cheap; we got what we paid for.)  I also bought a dozen suet blocks, "flavored" with hot pepper to discourage squirrels.

I just finished stocking the "bird buffet" and am about to make a fresh batch of sugar water for the hummers.  Here's hoping we'll get a nice variety of birds partaking of the plenty.  The quality bird food ain't cheap, but it's still a better bargain than paying for cable. ;)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

All the grades but one are in and...

I've got a 4.0 GPA this semester!  Only the Dramaturgy grade is still pending.  I'm not surprised; the protocol books that were our final project will take our professor quite a while to plow through.  With eleven of us in the class, that's a LOT of reading, even if all she does is skim to check on the nature & breadth of our research, sourcing methodology, and what we chose to include in the actors' resource packet.

If I get an A in Dramaturgy, I'll have two straight-A semesters back to back!  I didn't do badly the last time I got a BA, but I don't think I ever had a straight-A semester.  I know I didn't have two in a row.  I guess I learned some improved study habits while I was working.  It certainly made writing a lot less painful.  Whereas I dreaded it the first time I was an undergrad, now it's mostly a matter of figuring out my audience and thus how to focus and structure my writing.

Easy come, easy go

I finally heard back from the grad student/director about his theater project.  He couldn't find enough men to cast so he's putting the production on hold until at least the fall.  Too bad, because it sounded like fun.  Oh well; easy come, easy go.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Good audition week!

Sunday night I auditioned for a play being written by JW, a PhD candidate in Renaissance Studies; or rather, a play he wrote as an undergrad and is now revising.  It's part commedia del'arte, part English pastoral, with stylized presentation (movements, gestures, etc) in Act I and more realistic presentation in Act II.  JW struck me as very earnest, with an infectious enthusiasm for the project.  A little "Let's put on a show!", but I'm OK with that.  As long as it doesn't turn out like that abysmal original musical I did several years ago (which doesn't appear on my resume), and I don't think it will, this should be fun.

This was only my second-ever private audition (he's accommodating people's end-of-semester schedules).  I went in, he told me a little about the play, I performed my monologue, then read sections from a couple of scenes.  He had me do the second scene twice, using different characterizations.  He then told me he wants to use me and will let me know which role as soon as he has the rest of his cast.

This is the first time I've walked out of an audition knowing I had a role.  I'm sure it didn't hurt that I talked about my experience on the tech side - sewing, costuming connections, set building experience, and just being willing to adapt to the situation.

Today I auditioned for my first training film, for a community anti-terrorist (anti-radicalization?) program.  Again, I went in, we exchanged introductions, I read the first page of their script, a mock interview, and they seemed delighted.  I even get paid for this gig, so they sent me a W-9 and a contract to sign and return.  They'll be sending the script shortly, which they said would be "about 2-1/2 pages".  I hope they don't want to film too soon - that's a lot to memorize if most of it is my character, not the "interviewer".  This makes the second time I've walked out of an audition knowing I'm in.  Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket...

It's not often I get that "we love you" reaction when I audition, and twice in one week?  Gotta love it! :D

That's the first class finished...

Today was the last session of my Fundamentals of Theatrical Design class.  No final exam, thank heaven!  Instead, we had a final project due today - a Cornell box based on our design concept (earlier projects) for Sarah Ruhl's play, Eurydice.  We've been working on these in class over the past couple of weeks, with lots of helpful suggestions from our instructors, two MFA Design candidates (one scenic, one costumes).  I was amazed at how many different takes on the same story our class came up with, each of them with its own unique spark of genius.

I'm not thrilled with how my box turned out, but it isn't horrible.  Given that I've never tried anything remotely like it, I think it's OK, and some of my classmates had very nice things to say about it.  After literally losing sleep over it (I'd wake up during the night and my brain would start working on what to put in it, how to arrange this or that, how to anchor the glasses...), at this point I'm just relieved to have it behind me.  No idea what kind of grade I'll get for it, but I've got an A+ (101.56%, thanks to a bonus paper I turned in for "insurance") for everything else I've done this semester, so unless the instructors really hate it, I think I've got at least a B+ for the class.

This was quite an education in techniques.  I had to decide what kind of paint to use on the box so the wood grain would show through; I settled on well-watered acrylics, and ended up not sealing it with anything.  Anchoring the shelf was another challenge; regular nails were too big, screws ditto, and finishing nails tended to push the shelf supports away from the box.  I ended up relying on wood glue, which was OK because the heaviest thing on the shelf is the clock, which has no battery in it.  I had to use glue to keep the string wrapped around the nails, and museum putty to anchor the clock and the glasses in the bottom.

One of the instructors suggested "distressing" the clock so it wouldn't look so new and the purple paint wouldn't look so bright.  I first sprinkled it with water and dunked it in the ashes in the grill.  That didn't really work - the ashes didn't adhere to the plastic very well - so I set it in some used coffee grounds overnight.  That did the trick; once I shook off the excess, it looked old (which it's not) and dirty (which it definitely is, now).

Some of it was fun, like the painting once I figured out what technique to use.  (Scene Painting tips and techniques came in handy here.)  The glasses were a happy thrift-shop find, as were the glass "pebbles", seashells, and dyed nutshells that went into them.  Lots of idea were raised and discarded along the way - this art thing is quite a complicated, drawn-out process! :D

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Hoping he loses this tax client

The Chief has been very busy the past couple of months with tax season, especially since he picked up 4 or 5 new clients shortly before the filing deadline.  One couple, however, I think he'd be happy to see go elsewhere.  They're not only flaky about their record-keeping, but they have yet to be on time for an appointment.  The capper, though, was that the Chief set up an appointment with the wife for this evening.  She agreed they'd be over as soon as the husband got home from work (he works a later schedule).  Two hours later, they still hadn't shown, hadn't called, and didn't answer when the Chief called to leave a voice message.  He had me proofread an email he was about to send, expressing concern that they hadn't shown and wondering if they were unhappy with his work and wanted to take their business elsewhere.  We'll see if he gets a response.

Fer cryin' out loud, how hard is it to CALL when you're running late or need to reschedule?!?  The Chief & I both tend to be punctual, so we have a hard time with people who are chronically late (sometimes by 20 minutes or more), or completely flake out and forget an appointment.  It strikes me as rude and inconsiderate.  The Chief is already planning to increase his rates in 2017 (his current rates are about half what Block charges).  I've told him repeatedly he also needs to include fines for lateness and no-shows, since his time is valuable.  If he's waiting for a no-show, that's an appointment slot that someone else could be using.  Not to mention the assumption that he's got nothing better to do than sit around and wait for someone who can't bother to be even close to on time, or call to say that "I'm stuck behind a 3-car pile-up" or what-have-you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Awaiting the end of tax season

The Chief is a tax preparer.  He just started his business a few years ago, with about 6 or 8 clients.  This year he picked up several more, with 4 of them calling him just this week.  (Nothing like waiting until the last minute, eh?)  Tonight he took 15 minutes to grab a bite of dinner after the first client left, and before his next 2 appointments.  His clients are stacking up like planes over LaGuardia!  He's glad to have the additional income, of course, but it would certainly help him if people would call him in February or March instead of waiting until April.  Bringing all their paperwork when they meet with him would be useful too.

Allow me to brag a little.  If you want a conscientious tax preparer, the Chief is your man.  He has spent hours and hours poring over each return, making sure he didn't miss any potential deductions or penalty-inducing errors (it's surprising what some people's accountants have missed or mis-entered).  He makes sure he knows the tax code citation or court case to support every deduction, just to be sure.  He pays for a subscription to a tax advisory service and has used it an average of once or twice on every account, clarifying issues open to interpretation or confirming that he was handling something correctly.  He's found cases where an amended return earned the clients several hundred dollars in refunds.  He has literally lost sleep because he was ruminating on a particularly complicated tax issue for a client, or woken at 4 a.m. with an idea that could help them.  You want meticulous, painstaking, thorough, and scrupulously honest?  The Chief is the one to call.  If you incur penalties as a result of an error he made, he'll pay the penalty.  He even throws in free tax planning advice.  I worry that he's wearing himself to a frazzle ("They had to wait until ONE WEEK before the filing deadline to call you?!?") but I'm very proud of how well he does this.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

This painting thing is kinda fun!

In today's Fundamentals of Theatrical Design, we finally got to the part I'd been dreading - painting!  They started us off nice and slow, though - basic color mixing, painting on a grid with the combinations labeled for us (e.g., "red + yellow").  Then it got a little harder - "approximate your skin and hair colors on those 2 faces (on the handout, next to the color-mixing grid); you get two tries."  Yike!  To my relief, however, I managed to come reasonably close.

The next step was to pick one of two costumed figures on a second handout and fill in colors matching the colors in one of two sample photos.  I decided against the pretty green bird only because there weren't enough different colors to suit me. ;)  Instead, I went for the autumn leaves against the old blue door.  Sadly, my palette doesn't include turquoise, only darker blues, so  couldn't use blue for my figure.  That still left me a greenish yellow and a variety of oranges, so my 18th-century court lady was all in autumn tones, including her orangey-red hair. :)  The instructor who's a costume design MFA candidate was complimentary when I handed it in, so I'm hoping for a decent grade.  (I was very surprised to get full credit on the design copying exercise we did last week.)

What I've learned this semester in my Scene Painting class came in handy, especially the color mixing exercise (even if it did kick my butt).  Nice when things overlap and reinforce each other like that.  However, it didn't prepare me for the difference between acrylics (Scene Painting) and watercolors.  I quickly learned the hard way that you don't need very much water at all.

I decided that this painting thing is actually kinda fun!  I wouldn't want to try starting from absolutely nothing, but coloring in a design someone else came up with is just playing with colors, which is always fun.  Maybe after the end of the semester, I'll get one of those adult coloring books and use up my watercolors on it (now that I know the dangers of too much water).

Monday, April 04, 2016

In case you were wondering...

... whether I got into those classes I had to audition and interview for.  I'm waitlisted for the Alexander Technique class, but got into Voice for the Actor.

The latter class is at the same time as the costume construction class I wanted to take, but the instructor told me today that "you're probably too advanced for it."  It's for rank beginners - sewing terminology, how to use a sewing machine, a few very basic projects.  Too bad - sounded like it would be fun.  I wonder what the homework would have consisted of?

I came to a fork in the road...

... but I didn't take it.  A few weeks ago, coming back from the choir trip, I was walking from the bus to my car when I saw a cafeteria-issue fork just sitting there on the sidewalk.  I immediately thought of Yogi Berra but didn't take his advice.  About 10 days later, coming back to classes after spring break, the fork was still there.  No one else took that fork in the road, either. :)

It's the little things

The other day I removed Dad from my phone's contacts.  Actually, I could have done it a year ago, or whenever it was that I realized calling him was just frustrating him, so I started writing him little notes instead.  Every so often I still start to head down the greeting card aisle in the store to look for a card for him, then stop myself.

The inurnment ceremony was short but very nice.  The "family priest" (cousin of Mom's) did a lovely job as always.  He shared a memory of Dad.  Father M was at Mom's bedside when she died and told us of Dad holding Mom's hand that last time.  The Army also sent a bugler to play Taps (I think we all started "leaking" at the first note) and two NCOs to do the flag thing.  Dad would have been so pleased and proud.

M&D have two side-by-side slots in a "quadruplex" at the columbarium.  When the cemetery rep asked if we'd like to have the divider between their slots removed, we said "Yes, please!"  It won't make any difference to them, of course, but we love the idea of their "dusty boxes" (as Sister3 christened them) side by side.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I have a PAID church gig!

I got an email yesterday from one of the other singers in the benefit concert I did last summer.  She wondered if I could sub for her at her church job for 2 weeks while she & her husband are out of town for a wedding.  My calendar's clear for the dates, so I said yes.  After singing for free at my own church essentially all my life, I'm actually gonna get PAID to go to 2 choir rehearsals and sing 2 services along with the rest of the choir.    Not my denomination, so I'll have to pay close attention to the order of service, but that's a minor point.  I have no plans to give up singing at my own church, but it's a nice little change of pace, and the cash will be a nice bonus. :)

Saturday, March 05, 2016

I guess they liked it...

We had our first performance of the Brahms last night.  The audience must have enjoyed it - they started standing up as soon as the maestro's body language told them it was over, and they kept applauding through three sets of bows!

This conductor is a lot of fun to work with.  His joy in the music is obvious, and his conducting body language is so expressive, it's almost as if he dances through it.  He certainly gets good music out of both chorus and orchestra, and I think we all enjoy the experience.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Never had to audition for a class before

I need to take at least 2 more performance classes in order to graduate.  In this program, that means you audition or interview.  Yesterday was my audition for the Alexander Technique class.  I had no idea what to expect - I'd never heard of interviewing to get into a class!  And getting in isn't a given; the class is limited to 12, and 18 people signed up for interviews.  The instructor expects to notify people by the middle of next week.

Today was my audition for Voice for the Actor.  I trimmed down the Veta Louise monologue I've used before.  It went well enough, and the professor then had me start it again as if Veta were seriously pissed off about this situation.  (I'd been playing her as at her wits' end.)  She warned me that she'd cut me off before I finished, and she did, but she explained that anger seems to play funnier.  The whole thing took maybe 5 minutes, tops.  I told her it was the shortest, most painless audition I think I've ever had.  She expects to post her list by the end of the day tomorrow.  While I don't have class at this building tomorrow, we do meet here for the "Brahms buses", so I can check the list before we have to board the buses for our concert.

I've now been introduced to this concept of having to audition for a class.  The scary part is that they only let you audition (or interview) twice; after that, you're out of luck.    Yike!

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

The wheels on the bus...

And we're off!  Two busloads of singers, headed to our first rehearsal with the orchestra.  (We had our first run-through with the maestro last night.)  My seatmate, a middle school music teacher, is working on lesson plans.  I've got my music, my water bottle, a coupla pencils, and a little dinner - I'm ready for this. Looking forward to singing with a professional orchestra!

Sunday, February 28, 2016


In this week's Scene Painting class we played with creating the effect of marble.  I'm happy with how mine turned out.  I had a little trouble getting some of the effects I wanted, so we got into a little bit of a time crunch (no wonder we meet for a single 4-hour session!), but I still think my "marble" looks pretty decent.  The curving arc makes it look kinda like a geode.  Not bad for someone who'd never attempted anything like this until I started this class.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

This singing stuff is an unpredictable business.

Yesterday's voice lesson was one of those that happen every so often and make you wonder why you bother.  Seemed like everything I tried to sing below the staff was mushy, muddy, back in the throat - you name a technical problem, I had it.  My low audition piece (lots of it below the staff) was giving me so much trouble that my teacher and I both decided that I would definitely not be using it for the audition I had last night.  Five hours just wouldn't be enough to whip it into shape.

So that audition last night.  I sang my two higher pieces (one G&S, one Rodgers & Hammerstein).  They both felt good, the audition panel laughed (they're comic pieces, so that's a good thing), and the audition accompanist sightread like a champ and followed nicely, so it was all good.  I'm sure it helped that we'd touched on both pieces in my lesson yesterday afternoon, so all those technical niceties were fresh in my mind.

This afternoon was the mock run of next Saturday's NATS competition.  C has 7 students who'll be competing and 6 of us sang this afternoon.  We had an "adjudicator", we stood in the crook of the piano to sing, just as we will next week, and we were coached in how to introduce ourselves and our pieces.  C had us in age order, starting with her youngest students, which meant I "batted clean-up".  It wasn't too bad being last, as I only had to wait through 5 other people's music.  Having had the benefit of C's training, they all did well.  I got a little over-the-top with my brindisi, which caused one of my notes to "splat", but in general I was pretty happy with how it went, and did have fun singing the music.  Better, C was delighted with how my lowest song went.  She thought it was worlds better than yesterday and was very happy with how quickly I'd managed to incorporate her corrections.  Now if I can just manage to keep them in mind through the week so I've internalized them by next Saturday, when I have to sing for the judges...

The Chief came along for the ride.  (It helped, I'm sure, that I promised him dinner afterwards at a nearby restaurant we love.)  He said that, when I was warming up in the car going over, he wasn't so sure how I'd do, but thought that when it came down to it, I did just fine. :)

Sunday, February 07, 2016

"Travel team"

I'm registered in Chorale as one of my classes this semester.  This has already meant an outside rehearsal (this afternoon), with more coming up.  Our first performance series consists of 3 concerts split between 2 venues, about 30-40 miles apart.  We got an email earlier this week with the schedule, including when we have to be on the buses.

We're also on tap to sing at a directors' conference in mid-March.  That one's out of town, which means packing an overnight bag (and probably sharing a hotel room with a fellow chorister).  Because we leave late on a Friday morning, I also have to arrange to make up my Scene Painting work for that day.

I never realized, when I registered, that I was signing up for a "travel team"! :D

Friday, February 05, 2016

I painted something!

Today was the first day we actually painted in Scene Painting class.  (Last week was the customary administrative stuff, "getting to know you" session, and a quick tour of the building.)  Today was about creating visual texture. We practiced several techniques that were new to me:
- painting with a brush on the end of a pole
- wet blend (paint, then water on the brush, so the colors combine readily), using X strokes
- scumbling (near as I can tell, it's like wet blend, except that the colors remain somewhat discrete)
- spattering (tips: keep the brush horizontal, don't use too much water unless you want the color to be diluted, don't use a brush with really stiff bristles)
- using a sea sponge (wet or dry) for dappling or blending
- using a feather duster(!) to dapple or blend
We each had a 4' x 4' board to practice on.  Some of my classmates are definitely artists and had very good-looking results.

Interestingly, nearly everyone else had darker, more muted colors, in part because of the way their colors blended.  I chose bright blue, green and yellow, so I had the one board with fairly bright colors.  Our instructor said they made her happy. :)  I was pleasantly surprised that something I dove into with no plan and no real clue what I was doing turned out reasonably well.  I painted a thing and I actually kinda like it! :)  (That funny-looking stick-like thing in the middle is just some dribbled paint.)

I used the sponge on this corner to get the streaky effect here:

Some spatter and just a touch of feather duster:

Here are everyone's boards (the one on the brown paper is the instructor's demo):

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Been a very eventful few weeks

The biggest event was that Dad finally succumbed to his health issues on Jan. 15th.  We're relieved for his sake, and glad he's reunited with Mom, but of course his passing leaves a big hole in our lives.

The Chief and I flew out for the funeral.  My siblings planned a very nice one, so we gave him a good send-off.  (Mom would've loved the music.)

Getting back was tricky, however.  The East Coast got hit with a blizzard that weekend (one of Dad's cousins and his wife decided, wisely, not to fly out), so our flight home Sunday was cancelled.  We finally got home Monday afternoon.  Classes were cancelled both Monday and Tuesday, which gave me a little time to get ready for a new semester at a new school.

Getting into the new semester has been tricky because I was waitlisted for two classes I needed.  I did manage to get into both, but I only got approved for the second one yesterday, and didn't get my shop hours scheduled until this morning.  

This has made it hard to reschedule my voice lesson, too.  C's schedule is pretty full, so I was afraid we might not be able to work something out.  As it is, I couldn't get a lesson this week, but we did work something out.  Good thing, with NATS only a few weeks away!

It's hard changing schools mid-year.

Classes have been in session for about a week now, my schedule is finalized at last, but I'm still feeling unsettled.  Part of it is that no two days have the same schedule, but there's also the fact that my of my classmates seem to know each other.  Ah well, I've done this before; once in 2nd grade and again in 8th.  At least this time I have the advantage of perspective and experience.  I know I'll live, and at this level people are far more likely to ignore the new "kid" than pick on her, especially given that she's probably at least as old as their parents. ;)

Gonna be a busy semester.  I'm taking 14 credit hours, and I can see already that I'm gonna be quite busy with reading and researching design projects.  My two "artsy" classes - Fundamentals of Theatrical Design  and Scene Painting - are a bit intimidating because I have never felt that I had much design imagination or *any* drawing ability.  They'll certainly challenge me, pushing me to step way out of my comfort zone and to force my imagination to get off dead center and do something.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Getting psyched for this semester

Went to new student orientation last Friday and got a preliminary schedule.  I'm waitlisted for two classes I need, so they gave me two others to fill out my hours.  Today I met with someone in the Theater dept. about registering for one of the four 1-credit practicums I need for my degree.  She sent me to the costume shop to get a contract for the 40 hours I need to put in.  I'm now slated to spend 4 hours every Monday afternoon during the semester working in the costume shop, learning some tricks of the trade and, if I'm lucky, being trusted to work on some of the fancier projects.  

Poor me - "forced" to work in the costume shop.   When I got home and told the Chief, he teased me about staying past closing so I can continue to play in the costumes.  That's probably not too far from the truth - I full expect to have NO trouble getting in my 40 hours.  At 4 hours a week, I'll probably hit that number before the end of the semester.

They also have an arrangement they call a "fire sale".  Instead of spacing your 40 hours over the semester, you do a single 40-hour week during the week before classes start.  You get the same credit, but knock it out in a single week.  Not all of the technical shops offer this arrangement, but it's nice to know it's out there, in case I want to get a jump-start on my semester.