Friday, August 29, 2008

Old School

Dan and I had a short conversation about the phrase "Old-School" the other night. First we discussed the spelling. We decided it should be hyphenated as opposed to being separated into two distinct words or squished together into one.
We also discussed the meaning of "Old-School." Dan started out by offering that it meant "Old-fashioned" but I suggested that it is not an exact synonym for "Old-fashioned" since "Old-School" usually refers to something in recent history (within the decade) that is only outdated because of seasonal changes or newer fashions.
My reason for mentioning our "old-school" conversation is this: I usually detest slang that is fabricated for the sake of making up a new "cool" word or phrase. Today, many people say things like "Dude, that's bangin'!" or "No 'diggity!" or "Fo' Shizzle!" or "Y'all been jeepin' behind my back?" or "Oh, snap!" These words and phrases make no sense. These people are not Shakespeare creating words because there isn't a word to describe what he means, they are a bunch of hooligans who are trying to pervert the English language and confuse every foreign tourist in America. (The language is hard enough as it is, people! Give those poor foreigners a brake.) Most of this dumb slang goes out as fast as it comes in, but I think "Old-School" has staying power. First of all, it has no synonyms. Secondly, it describes a state of being that needed a description. Thirdly, it is versatile. Old-School can be a good thing or a bad thing. Examples: "That skateboard is old-school, where did you get it?" (This shows awe and respect for the older model skateboard that is rare and no longer available.) "That song is old-school, turn it off." (This shows annoyance and dislike for a song that is a little older and a little played out.)

Short story long... we approve of the phrase "Old-School." That is all.

When He Grows Up

People who observe the behavior of my little guy usually try to guess what he is going to be when he grows up. Currently it seems that his possibilities are endless:

1) Locksmith
2) Marine Biologist
3) Suicide bomber
4) Soccer player
5) Movie or book critic
6) Dancer
7) Singer
8) Scientist
9) Professional eater
10) Test subject
11) Music composer/ piano player
12) D.J.
13) CEO of his own company

This list is based on his current baby behaviors and not on what we want him to be. I'm sure the list will keep growing until he is about 15, at which time he will abruptly freak out about "the future" and "college" and "majors." That is when the list will be painstakingly whittled down to zero.

Oh, my son. May reality never crash down on you.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Our current role of toilet paper has no perforated lines.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Like Looking for a Needle in a Haystack

The title of this post would be a good analogy for how I feel about finding the time to sew. And when I say "sew" I really mean sew for myself. I am always offering to sew for other people, and sometimes I am being paid to do it. This is fun, don't get me wrong. Sometimes I prefer it. But I haven't sewn anything for myself in a very long time. Part of the problem is that I haven't wanted to waste the time sewing something in a size that I don't want to be (see previous post). Even so, I have a lot of fabric and I have a million ideas of what to do with each piece. I know I should just go for it, but it is also quite time consuming and I don't have much uninterrupted time to work, not to mention my lack of work space. In times like this I wish I were crazy rich so that I could live in a house with an amazing craft room. That is my ultimate fantasy. I know that I could move to Arizona or something and make that dream a reality... but I like living by the ocean in my paradisaical town. I guess the saying "you can't have it all" really is true.

I know I can use my time more wisely and effectively and I can definitely find time to sew for myself. However, I am a little lazy and I find starting big projects overwhelming. In addition I have a million other interests and half-finished things that always get pushed to priority positions on my "to do" list. I also work much harder on something if there is a deadline to meet or some other outside pressure pushing me to accomplish.

Well, now the goal is on my blog. Who knows who will read this, but maybe it will give me the incentive that I need. In the mean time, maybe I'll put up some pictures of things I have sewn and/or designed in the past. Stay tuned...

Weighing in

I gained 60 pounds when I was pregnant with Asher. I was stressed out, working, on my feet all day, etc.... but let's be real here, 60 pounds is A LOT. I was happy with my body before I was pregnant, and I worked to keep myself in shape.

Everyone kept telling me "Oh just wait until the baby comes. You will lose a ton of weight just from giving birth. It is SO wonderful!" I had Asher, and three days later I weighed myself. I had lost six pounds. SIX. This was disheartening, because Asher weighed just under nine pounds. (How is this possible? Don't ask me, I'll start crying.)

After my boy was in my arms people said "Oh, just nurse and the pounds will simply drop off your body. You can eat whatever you want. It is fabulous!!" Even on a diet, my weight was pretty dang stubborn. It did not want to come off. It took me a year to drop 40 pounds. And I was trying. (Jogging, dieting, etc.) Some things worked to an extent, but it was an agony I had never known before.

When my son switched over to 100% cows milk I knew better than to trust those people that told me "As soon as you stop nursing, everything will get back to normal. You will lose weight just by stopping, because you have at least 5 pounds of milk. It will be wonderful!" But I still hoped. My son has been weened for about two months now. I've been running and eating pretty well. Guess what? Nothing. Not one pound of difference.

So now it is my third day of Weight Watchers, because that has worked for me in the past. I know it will take a while, but I am confident that if I cut calories for long enough my body has to give up a few pounds. I'm hungry a lot, but I don't care. I've dieted before. I know I can get down to the weight that I want.

It is not about looking like a supermodel, or even getting back to exactly what I looked like before. It would be nice to fit into some of my old clothes of course, so that I can stop wearing the same 5 things each week, but that is not really the reason I care either. The main reason I want to lose weight is so that it feels good to be in my body again. I don't feel terrible now, but I know I would have more energy, I would be more able to be active, I would be more flexible, and I would feel an overall increase in health and possibilities within myself. It also feels great to accomplish a goal.

I'm dedicated right now. I hope to remain so for the next few months at the very least. I'm excited to reach my goal, and I am certainly not on a pity party right now. I feel empathy for those who cannot lose weight easily. (I never believed them before because it was so easy for me to maintain my weight and size with diet and exercise.) I want to get in the best shape of my life, you know, before I screw it all up and get pregnant again.

I'm scared of having another kid. It is not the fear of something going wrong, the pain of the delivery, the misery of the recovery, or the anxiety over bringing another child into this world. That is all nothing. I just hope I don't gain another 60 pounds.

I hope that doesn't sound too sick.


Last Sunday at church an older woman I have known for about 15 years came up to me and paid me a very odd compliment. She started off a conversation by asking if I have read the Twilight books. I responded affirmatively, and I asked her if she was reading them. She replied that she was on her second round of the final book (which had just been published the week previous). We bantered a little about the plot and the books in general and then she said "You know, whenever I read those stories I always picture you and your husband as Bella and Edward. I know that Bella is supposed to have dark hair, but I always picture you." I raised my eyebrows to the roof and sputtered "Thanks!" I mean, my first reaction was to be totally flattered. Twilight is loved by millions and MILLIONS of people and Edward and Bella are very dedicated to each other. They are also very young and attractive. So, you know... what a compliment.

Later on I started thinking about this "compliment" a bit more in depth. First of all, both of these characters are so white they could pass for albinos. Dan is a computer programmer and I am the skin cancer queen so I suppose I see her point there. Secondly, Edward is supposed to be ridiculously good-looking and talented while Bella is self-conscious, clumsy, and at times quite annoying. Huh. I don't know if I want to be Bella anymore. Thirdly, and this is the most disturbing point of all, Edward and Bella have very *ahem* intimate moments in these books (especially the last one that she was reading for the second time). Do I want someone picturing my husband and I in that way? I guess I should be glad she wasn't picturing Dan with someone else.

Still.... yikes.

I wonder who she pictures for Jacob?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


A few months ago Dan and I had a very long conversation in which we discussed young people who have made major contributions to the world as we know it. (I say “as we know it” because we were talking about our specific interests and hobbies. The two of us together cover quite a bit of ground.) We tried so hard to find the right words in this conversation, each trying to explain to the other why we admire certain people’s accomplishments, and are perhaps a bit jealous of very successful people who are around our age. In this conversation we were also trying to explicate why we do the things we do. Dan likes photography, writing code, and generally solving problems that people never knew they had. He creates programs and websites. He dabbles in videography, blogging, and inventing. He was telling me that he wants to make major contributions to the world in his areas of interest, and I was trying to tell him that I felt the same way about myself and my talents/interests. I have very strong feelings toward acting, directing, and choreographing. I love designing clothes and costumes, writing music and stories, and dancing and singing. I get frustrated with myself sometimes for not living up to what I see other people my age (or younger) doing in these areas. But our dissatisfaction is not about comparing ourselves with other people and feeling inadequate. It is not about the desire for fame or wealth that often accompanies success. In this discussion both Dan and I discovered that we just wanted to create. We realized that even though we love to do very different things, we both like creating for the sake of creating. Of course, we want what we are working on to be relevant and high quality, and worldly success often follows relevent and high quality work… but we both love to invent and fabricate and make things because we love the process. It was a sweet “aha” moment.

It only took us six and a half years of marriage to figure that out.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ball.... CUPS!

My son recently had his 1st birthday, and he received some stacking cups from his Aunt Shauna. These stacking cups also have the capability to come together and turn into 5 differently sized balls, and Asher has figured out how to turn them from balls into cups (and visa-versa). That is fun, but what is MORE fun to us is that he understands us when we tell him to find his ball and then turn it into cups. He gets a huge kick out of understanding what the heck we are talking about. Other words he most certainly recognizes: Feet, kisses, Asher, Mama, Dada, dance (snaky dance), ceiling fan, Eskimos (as in kisses), piano, kick, and clapping. He warms up to scales with me (Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Haaaaa!) and he loves to see the microwave and hear it beep. He kicks any round object around like a dribbling soccer player. It is crazy how the time is flying and how different he is every day.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good Shows?

Warning: Here is where you will find my feelings on the devolution of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera. You may already know my feelings on this subject. Feel free to skip the post.

First of all I need to say that my first introduction to The Phantom of the Opera was reading Gaston LeRoux's book in 8th grade. Despite the lack of polish in the plot and the confusing multi-genreness (yes, I just said "muti-genreness") of the novel, I loved it. My English class raised some money and we all hopped a bus down to the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles to see the muscial production. There were many changes from the book to the play, but the only thing that really disappointed me was the speed of the chandelier (too slow). Everything else was magic to me. I loved the music. I loved the look of it. I loved the stage tricks. This was the first professional theater production I had ever seen, and I was obsessed. I played my parent's Phantom cassette tape constantly, I learned the easy version of all the songs on the piano. I annoyed my sisters to the point of insanity with my love for this musical. Sorry guys.

Eventually my love for Phantom simmered down to the point where I could function without hearing the music every day. Time passed, and other things became important. Still, whenever I would hear a song from that show it would trigger something in me that would start me dreaming. I have never not loved this show.

When I was nineteen I went with a group of people to New York to see a few shows. Of course Phantom was on the list. I was so exited to see this musical again, especially since the title role was being played by a graduate from my High School and we were going to be able to talk with some of the actors after the show. It was exciting, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. I felt like people were not trying hard enough to make every show new and every minute real. The dancers were a little off. It didn't feel quite right. But it was still an amazing show.

Flash forward a couple years. I got married, and my husband took me to see Les Miserables (another favorite of mine) and Phantom in London. We had restricted-view seats, which was annoying, but I also just didn't like some of the choices that the actors (perhaps the director) made. It seemed as though the production was trying to somehow "update" the original, when in fact the original production was somehow practically perfect the way it was. I wondered if my criticism stemmed from the circumstances of our seats and my annoyance with our view, but we saw Les Mis in uncomfortable seats straight off the plane from LA after staying up for 36 + hours and we thought it was amazing. We didn't get tired for one second of the performance. (Of course we fell asleep on the Underground afterward, but that is a different story that thankfully doesn't involve any pick-pocketing.)

The movie came out. I did not see it in the theaters. I heard mixed reviews. My mom popped it into the DVD player while I was over at her house one day. I wanted to laugh at parts that were not funny, and I was mad that the movie could have strayed so far from the original story. I will now list all of the things wrong with this movie, in no particular order.
1) They picked a Christine and a Phantom that do not have remarkable singing voices. In fact, there are moments in the movie where they both totally mess up vocally. (How many takes did you have?! Isn't this a movie where you can fix stuff like that?!) Gerard Butler learned how to sing for this film. That is just plain crazy. Not only is the Phantom a very demanding vocal role, he is supposed to be training Christine. The role calls for someone with remarkable abilities just so that we as an audience will believe that the Phantom actually could be Christine's teacher. I guess since Emmy Rossum isn't a fabulous singer it is a moot point.
2) They took away everything that is cool about the Phantom. He is supposed to be able to lull you with his gorgeous voice. He is supposed to be the world's greatest ventriloquist. He is supposed to be lethally dangerous. Raoul would NEVER be able to beat him in a stupid duel because a) he would kill Raoul before he could reach for his sword and b) the Phantom has WAY more experience with killing people than Raoul does. Removing these important character traits takes away the magic and mystery of the Phantom. In this film he was just a weird guy living in the cellar of the opera. Why were people scared of him?
3) They made the Phantom hot. I mean, he was really good-looking. Even with his mask off, I was like "Dang, I'd take him over that pompous scraggly-looking Count any day! He only lost an eyebrow, what is everyone so horrified about?" The Phantom is not supposed to be more handsome than everyone else in the movie, that is the point. He is a freak.
4) They added a sword fight in the movie. A sword fight. Between Raoul and the Phantom. Seriously, LAME. This would never happen. Raoul is supposed to be a young, scared, rich boy- not some swashbuckling hero. At the end of the fight he HAS the Phantom at the tip of his sword, and he is ready to do him in and Christine yells "No! Not like this." Ok, guys. Let's come up with a better plan then. Lets spend tons of money performing his opera and put Christine in mortal danger and try to kill him later. This makes no sense.
5) The costumes were totally inappropriate for the time period. They were pretty scandalous for 1919. But they were pretty, I'll grant.
6) They added a back story for the Phantom that totally doesn't fit with the timing of everything else. Also, they decided to just invent their own story instead of referencing the book. I don't think anyone involved in this movie even read the original novel. An added annoyance, Raoul's acting is terrible in this scene.
7) I could go on, but we only have so much space here. Those are my main points anyway. Just to counter-balance all this negativity, I will say that I loved Mini Driver as Carlotta. I don't care if her singing voice was dubbed, that is what they should have done with almost everyone else. Raoul had a great singing voice. The orchestra sounded amazing. Some of the sets were cool, but the computer graphics were pretty bad. (Sorry, I'll stop.)

Ok, so now on to the Vegas Phantom. First of all, the billboards for this showed a very inappropriate amount of Christine cleavage. She was wearing something completely inappropriate to her innocent character and the time period. In the picture, the Phantom is about to seductively kiss her. I was annoyed from the start, because this changes the whole meaning of their relationship. He is supposed to like her in part because of her purity and her naivete. His whole relationship as her "angel of music" is based from her trusting and innocent nature. Plus, I resent that anyone thinks they have to make their show look whorish in order to get a Vegas audience to come see it. Shouldn't good work speak for itself? Grr...
They also cut the show to 90 minutes and added some lame stuff from the movie (a bit of the back story, making the chandelier fall at a stupid time, etc.). WHY cut GOOD things to add in confusing BAD things? Did Mr. Prince and Mr. Webber think that the original musical wasn't effective or good enough? It is the longest running musical of all time! If it ain't broke, DON'T FIX IT!! They added a ton of spectacle... there were fireworks on the stage, there was glass that the wedding Christine "broke through", Raoul got trapped in some crazy death box instead of lassoed by the Phantom, the Phantom appeared on the chandelier, He appeared on the stage before his opera so that the police could shoot at him, he disappeared in his red death costume only to reappear at the top of the steps and start running at everyone. Although I am not opposed to adding things to an existing show, don't do it at the expense of the show's merit. Most of these additions were stupid. It seemed to be spectacle for spectacle's sake. Plus, it moved the show farther from it's roots, which were perfect. The show is morphing into something cheap and bad, and I don't like it.
One more note, the guy playing the Phantom in Vegas annoyed the heck out of me. He played it like a crazy man. He sometimes beat his chest and he would go into unexplainable seizures. He actually went into a few seizures when he was kissing Christine. He wasn't relatable or even likable. The little boy next to my husband was laughing, and rightfully so. He looked retarded. Literally. The man got a standing ovation. I was horrified. I wondered if people just assumed that they were supposed to, or if they really liked him. Are people that blind to bad acting? His singing wasn't good enough to make up for it.

Maybe I am a very severe critic when it comes to this specific show because when I saw it for the first time I was young and inexperienced in the theater world and I didn't see its flaws. I'm not discounting this possibility, but I really think there has been a gradual dissent with this musical (more speedily in recent years). I think the creators are trying to make it new and fresh, when really it doesn't need to be changed. Every change they make takes them further away from the truth of the story, and therefore further away from the brilliance they had at the beginning. Maybe Andrew Lloyd Webber has been hanging out with George Lucas. I heard from a friend of mine "in the know" (she is an Emmy-winning writer) that Sir Andrew is working on a sequel to Phantom. A sequel. As if he hasn't corrupted the story enough, he wants it to be centered around a young boy whose mother is Christine and whose father is unknown. You can imagine how I feel about that.

It has always saddened me that I have never been in The Phantom of the Opera. For a while it was the great longing of my life because it was really the beginning of my love for theater and my reason for becoming an actress. I loved the play so much, and I just believed that I would relish each moment on stage. I actually auditioned for the original Vegas cast. Although I would still love to be in some production of Phantom, I wouldn't want it to be Vegas. Now I can safely say that I am extremely happy not to be a part of that mess.

Another plus to my feelings about all of this was that once I was hired to sing at a party and I noticed that Joel Schumacher (director of the movie) was in the crowd. Instead of freaking out I thought to myself "This guy wouldn't know good singing if it hit him in the face" and I kept on singing with the confidence that he probably thought I was rather good, if he cared that I was singing at all.

Vegas, Baby. Vegas.

For my birthday, Dan surprised me with a two day trip to the City of Sin. We don't drink, and we don't gamble... so the only sinful behavior we participated in was thinking bad thoughts about the hordes of people in the street trying to give us gross pictures of women with major self-esteem issues. We left our boy safely behind at Grandma's house where he participated in a little luxurious vacation of his own. (Thanks Mom!)

Our purpose in going to Vegas was to see three shows: The Blue Man Group, The Phantom of the Opera, and Cirque du Soleil's O. We stayed at the Venetian, which was home to the first two shows mentioned. (Side note, that place has really sweet suites!)

The Blue Man Group was our favorite of the three. I had seen the show before in New York and had really enjoyed it. There were a few differences, one being the size of the theater. In Vegas the theater is a lot bigger, and I think some of that personal connection is lost. Of course in New York I was seated in the Splash Zone, so maybe I'm just remembering things from that perspective.
Blue Man reminds me of a lot of different things in my life. My High School drumline days, my college movement/mime classes with James Donlon, my days as a High School drama teacher watching our awesome improv troupe perform in the little black box theater, recent days watching Ze Frank online with my husband on his laptop. The show seems fairly universal, but I'm not sure if everyone really gets it or if people just get a kick out of music and blue people.

Phantom is my favorite musical of all time, which is probably why I am so critical of it. This will need an entry all of its own. Let's just say I've seen Phantom in LA, London, New York and now in Vegas... it was the worst one. Even if I include the movie. Again, my rant on this needs a space of its own.

O was like an amazing, trippy, impossible dream. I was very inspired by most of it, although there is no plot, and practically no speaking. I loved the look of it. The colors in the costumes, the movement style of different characters, the music (especially the cello song), the inspired props, the lighting, the changing stage. This show has one of the best final bows of all time in my mind. O isn't really a circus show, it is a beautiful and elaborate dance with stunts and acrobatics tied in. And it isn't so much a story as it is a feeling. Strangely enough, when I hear certain songs I see this kind of stuff in my head and I think "Too bad that isn't possible." Now I know there are other crazy people out there that have visions like this (and talent that I don't have by the way) and it is possible! And people want to pay to see the creator's beautiful trippy weirdness. It gives me hope that I may not be all that insane after all.

To round out the travelogue, I will relate that before we saw Phantom and O we walked for a mile and a half from our hotel room to an impossible-to-find movie theater by the MGM Grand. We tried to see The Dark Night but we were too late so we saw Hancock. We were entertained. It wouldn't have mattered if we liked the movie, we needed to sit down and get out of the sun for two hours. Walking down the strip in the middle of the summer in the middle of the day almost killed us off. Oh, and I still have blisters.

Vegas is still Vegas. They have to entice you with every glittery and sexy thing to get you to come and stay in their bigger and better Arco-style hotels. The shows were good, and we had a fun little break from life, but life is so much better than what's offered in Vegas. When it was my turn to drive on the way home, I floored it to get away from the billboards and back to my Baby.