Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rocky Horrorific Shenanigans

...or, Shenanigans doesn't begin to cover it!

Yes, dearly beloved, Austin Theatre Project's The Rocky Horror Show has been struck.  It is now "one for the books," as they say.  Many thanks to Doc List for the photos, except for the last one, the credit for which goes to Laura Lund, one of the Phantoms.

I had to have a cast shot with me in it, because a time will come that I will have trouble believing that I got to do this.  The guys in black are the most excellent band and the rest are the whacked out, crazy, talented, persistent, indomitable, awesome cast.

We had our ups and downs.  The director, at one point, asked the producer if I was always this difficult to work with....can you imagine?  ME!  Difficult!  Jamais de la vie!  Probably because I tended to forget production meetings while sewing frantically.

Magenta and Columbia.  No, I didn't sew all this stuff.  These ladies have been doing theater for a while, and have a lot of their own things.  Opening on Halloween weekend helped, too...Halloween stores are a good source of cheap fishnets and interesting accessories.

We were supposed to open the day before Halloween, but this happened.  A veritable deluge.  This is the theater parking lot.  We wound up opening on Halloween night, at which point the water level had gone down sufficiently to permit access to the building.  So, we did two shows opening night.

Here's Eddie.  His alter-ego, Dr Scott (or is that Dr von Scott?), accidentally rolled his wheelchair right off the stage during a performance.  Fortunately, he was not seriously hurt and the show went on.

Brad (Asshole!) and Janet (Slut!)  Could they be any cuter?  Brad's lovely ballad that was cut from the movie was one of the best songs in the show...and none was less than superb.  Janet's Touch Me gave me goosebumps.

 The director went in an interesting direction with The Narrator, making her a Miss Marple sort of criminologist.  He said he wanted peacock feathers on her hat...I messaged him from The Veterans Connection thrift shop and told him I had the whole damn bird.

(A side note about The Veterans''s an awesome thrift shop in Round Rock that exists to assist veterans any way they can.  If you have some time, stop by there...they have great stuff and they are coin and military memorabilia experts.  They gave us a lot of things we used in the show, in exchange for an ad in the program.)

Rocky, himself. No one could have better rocked the gold shorts and winged tennies!

Riff Raff, in all his creepy glory.  Another whose voice raised goosebumps on my neck...

These are the Phantoms, as they are designated in the script.  In the movie, they were the oddly tailcoated party guests in Time Warp and the audience for the Floor Show near the end.  In the stage show, they are almost ubiquitous.  The director wanted them to represent different fetishes, so that's what I did.

The Sweet Transvestite, himself.  I have seen this actor play everything from Snoopy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown to the Donkey in Shrek to the choreographer in Love, Valour, Compassion, but I had never seen this side of him before, and I love it.  He was very tall in those patent platform boots!

His Act I costume included an interesting pair of shorts, made of black satin, with black mesh inserts back and front.  Due to the nature of the show, we had to have him wear a black thong so we couldn't see everything he has.  The night before closing, he came flying into the greenroom, saying, "Emergency!  Emergency!  My thong has fallen apart!  I need something black to put down the front of my shorts!"  I had a black iron-on patch in my sewing kit (like you do), so he used that for a scene, but it wouldn't stay put without ironing it onto something; he eventually borrowed a pair of drawers from one of the women.

Then, last night...the last night, this happened:

The lace jumpsuit was vintage (thanks, Olin, for the cape, the jumpsuit and the wig), and not really up for the stresses of this particular show.  It had to be mended before we started and more every week. Last night, a huge rent opened up right where his butt cheek meets his thigh, and there was no way he could go on like that and no time to change it out for a pair of fishnet tights or something.  So, there I was, praying he hadn't had beans for dinner...

All in all, this was a bucket show experience.  Mille Mercis to Austin Theatre Project for letting me play!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Bakery

There was a bakery in Chemainus, Dearly Beloved.  It was down a long hill, near the ferry dock.  At least a mile from the school.

Back in those halcyon days, we had a whole hour for lunch at school (can you imagine?), and freedom to leave the school, no questions asked, as long as we were back by the time the bell rang.  Again, can you imagine?

There was just time to walk to the bakery.  The Scotch Oat Cakes were three for a dollar, and made a totally adequate lunch.  They were crispy and salty and had big bubbles of baked cheese in them.  My mouth is watering just thinking about them, almost fifty years later!

After graduation, those Scotch Oat Cakes became just one more of the things I walked away from, never realizing that I'd not be able to get them anywhere else.

About twelve years after I left Chemainus, I was back for my dad's wedding and decided to visit the bakery.  I had a very stern talk with myself at the time, reminding myself that nothing ever stays the same, and who knew if they'd still be there, let alone still make those wonderful cakes...

As I awkwardly negotiated the bakery door with my umbroller stroller full of baby, I was surprised and delighted to find that the person behind the counter was someone from my class at school.  As well as that, there were Scotch Oat Cakes!  And they were even better than the ones they had when I was in high school!  The woman behind the counter owned the bakery.  She had obviously paid attention in Home Ec class, unlike myself.

If I'm ever back there again, I shall have that same talk as I make that same trek and try not to be disappointed if the Chemainus Bakery is no longer in existence.

Saturday, August 22, 2015



                  unable to speak, especially as the temporary result of shock or some strong emotion.
  1. "he was speechless with rage"
    synonyms:lost for words, at a loss (for words), dumbstruck, dumbfounded, bereft of speech, tongue-tiedinarticulatemutedumbvoicelesssilent;
    "her talk of divorce left him speechless"
    unable to be expressed in words.
    "surges of speechless passion"
    I have to wonder why it is a condition that is so short-lived.  Here's a typical speech from the speechless:
  2. I am speechless.  I mean, I am really, really speechless.  Do you hear me?  I am literally speechless.  You have no idea how speechless I am.  I cannot possibly think of a single thing to say, because I am dumbstruck.  How can you go on and on about this?  I am speechless.  Speechless, I tell you!  Speechless!  This is too stupid for words.  There are no words.  None.  I am totally speechless.  You've thought I was speechless before?  That was nothing.  NOTHING!  You have never seen me as speechless as I am at this moment.  I'd explain it too you, but it's moot because I'm mute.  Speechless.  Voiceless.  I have nothing to say.  Listen to me when I tell you I'm speechless.
    Oh.  My.  God.  If this is your idea of speechless, you need a new definition of the word! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

So. Here We Are Again

It's hard to believe it's been eight years since Jim died.  He has now been gone for a year more than we were married.

It has got easier, over the years, but I am still filled with sadness.  The rage has pretty much dissipated, but the guilt and sorrow remain.

I still find myself looking for ways I might have been responsible.  I know...I know...but still...if I could have got the house back the way Addy had it...if I had realized how bad he was feeling...if I had known more about depression...etc, etc.

One thing is for sure--if I had known that the last time we made love would have been the last time ever, I'd have put a bit more effort into it.

So, a word of advice to all you couples out there...make love every time like it's the last time, because it just might be.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

One of the Reasons Ronni Was an Angry Teen

Here we are, folks...the entire graduating class of 1966 at Chemainus Secondary School.  That's me in the center of the front row.  I was the shortest in the class, though my hair on that day had cooperated.  Many thanks to Esther Howe and an entire can of hair spray.

Here's what I looked like after we got home from the graduation ceremony:

Sweet, right?  My pretty pastel dress and pink rose corsage, and my fashionable up-do?  Yeah, not so much.  Look at my hands.  Clenched.  I was very, very angry.

In the early spring of 1966, my parents were notified that the possessions we had left in storage in England had been soaked and suffered considerable damage, including a lot of, books, linens, family portraits, glassware and china.  This necessitated a trip to England to sort it all out and Mom was the logical candidate, as Dad couldn't take that long off work.  The trip was paid for with the savings that were supposed to be used for my post-graduation trip to England.  So, yeah...I wasn't thrilled with that circumstance, as, every time I had wanted something in the previous four or five years, I got, "Would you rather go to the movies with your friends or go home to England when you graduate?"

Still, the major relevance here is that Mom was gone when I began to prepare for graduation.  My dad bought me an evening purse, because there was a dance associated with Graduation, albeit three weeks before the actual ceremony.  I cheerfully insisted that I wanted to make my own dress.  Dad was all for that; I promised it would be cheaper than buying one.

He was less than thrilled with the fact that he had to pay for three separate patterns.  The collar was the second one and the sleeves, the third.  I had a VISION, people!  Even so, the patterns, notions, fabric and lining cost less than $20.  Just for reference, the most expensive dress anyone bought off the rack for this event was the one on the girl standing at the far right in the second row...rumour had it that it cost (gasp) $90!  About half the girls made their own dresses in Home Economics class (out of which I had flunked in 8th grade), so it was no big deal that I made my own.  The problem ensued when Mom got back from England, after the dance and before the ceremony.

Mom and I always fought over sewing and she hated the dress, possibly because I made it without any input from her.  She insisted I had done it all wrong, and that she needed to fix it.  The focus of her ire was the blouson bodice that she thought was a mistake.  She must not have looked at the pattern.  In any case, she took the dress apart at the waist and said she would "fix it."  Every time I asked her when it would be done, she about bit my head off.

The day before the ceremony (my 17th birthday), she promised she would have it done in time.

The graduation took place at 2:00 PM in the school gym/auditorium.  Most of the girls were absent that morning, getting their hair done or busy with other last-minute prep.  By about 12:30, we were assembled at the school for a practice run.  My friend Esther had spent the morning in between classes, and lunch hour, doing my hair.  So there I was in my scruffy school dress and my closer-to-god hair, waiting for my parents to show up and the school with my dress so I could accouter myself in the girls' bathroom.  Just the way you want to dress for graduation, right?

By 1:15, teachers and admins were sticking their heads in the bathroom, asking me if I was ready yet.  Still no Mom and Dad.  They finally arrived at 1:40.  Mom pulled my dress out of a paper grocery bag--STILL IN TWO PIECES!!

In between complaining about my hair (too grown up), and my makeup (borrowed because I wasn't allowed to have any), she pinned me into the dress with STRAIGHT PINS, and tied the sash around my waist over the top of them.

Then, she insisted I wear gloves, because the other girls were.  Never mind that my dress was the only one with long sleeves, and one doesn't wear gloves with a long-sleeved formal...I didn't wear them, as you can see in the picture.

I slid into my place about a nanosecond before the music started our slow march up the aisle between the rows of folding chairs to take our places at the front.

After the ceremony, I got my picture taken with the pins sticking into my waist.  Then, it was change clothes and get on with the chores while the rest of the class celebrated with their families and friends.

They did get me the LP of Mary Poppins, but it was unclear whether it was a birthday present or a graduation present.  Oh...and the pink rose corsage was a gift from them.

It's a bit late in life to be pissed at my long-dead parents for things they did in 1966, but I still get an occasional twinge.

Occasions that are supposed to be special frequently aren't.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Breakfast Cereal

While groping through the stack of boxes on top of the fridge...the Captain Crunch and the Avengers and the other boxes of dried marshmallows and sugar sparkled munchie crunchies...I found a bag of Puffed Wheat.  They don't call it that, nowadays, and it has a sugar glaze on it that is unfamiliar, but it still evokes memories of other cereals we ate, back in the antedeluvian days of my minority.

Puffed Wheat was pretty much the bottom of the barrel.  None of the cereals we bought had any added sweetener--that would have been out of keeping both with poverty and the post-war austerity that remained my parents' philosophy throughout my childhood.

Once, when we first moved from England to Canada, we visited friends of my parents in Montreal.  As I was quite taken with the idea of a toy in the cereal box, they opened the box at the bottom so I could have it without having to eat my way through all the cereal first.  Sheer decadence!

We had Corn Flakes and Rice Crispies, Shredded Wheat and Weetabix, All Bran and, occasionally, Bran Flakes.  Nothing with sugar, but everything with lots of fiber or, as we called it, Roughage.  Roughage was considered necessary in order for one to be Regular.  As the workings of the bowel were only ever discussed in the vaguest of terms, the reason for this remained a Mystery.

Most of the cold cereals went to mush pretty fast, except for shredded wheat.

On any of them, I was allowed a scant teaspoon of sugar, but often snuck in more.  Even though there were two of them and only one of me, they couldn't watch me all the time.

In winter, there was hot cereal; Oatmeal and Cream of Wheat.  I am faintly nostalgic about the fights that ensued when I just couldn't choke the stuff down.  Of course, one was not allowed to out-stubborn one's parents and the stuff tasted worse once it had cooled and congealed, but you can't blame me for trying.

Of all the disgusting mushy things I was forced to eat, the only one that still makes me want to hurl is rice pudding.  I can choke down tapioca, grits, and Cream of Wheat...and quite enjoy oatmeal, properly cooked, but rice pudding is beyond me.

Isn't it amazing, what a bowl of Puffed Wheat can do!