Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It Has Been A Hell of a Year!

So, once again, Dearly Beloved, I look back on this year as it scurries out the door.  As I contemplate the ups and downs and round and rounds of the past 365 days, the ups dominate my thoughts.  Of course, the biggest of these was the addition to my life of my beautiful granddaughter, Adelaide Margaret Blevins.  Thanks, Vanessa!  Named Adelaide for Addy Prior, who enriched my life so much, and Margaret for my birth mother, Margaret Eilene King, without whom none of us would be here, she was born on February 17th, and is now about to drive us nuts with her speedy escape tactics.


Of course, other things happened as well.  I hit 65 and now have Social Security and Medicare. While I have not yet needed to take advantage of the latter, I will now officially be able to stop complaining about my personal battles with the health care non-system.  Things may still be tight, but I am not as constantly terrified of being on the street or under a bus or something.

You may recall that, a couple of years ago, I lost my directing moxie when Ben Weaver walked out of a show I was directing at Sam Bass Community Theatre, just over a week before the scheduled opening.  As it was a three-character piece, we had to cancel and I was immediately plunged into the well-known Pit of Despair.  Even rereading the awesome reviews garnered by Waiting for Godot and the good ones for Frankie and Johnnie in the Clare de Lune didn't help a whole lot.  Last season, I didn't even submit a show to Sam Bass, but did participate in a Directors' Workshop.  That went pretty well, so I submitted The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for this season.  I figured that, having directed it three times and acted in it once, I could probably turn out a decent production.  That show closed a couple of days ago, and was an unqualified success, so I am now back on track and feel much better about myself than I did this time last year (Photo courtesy of Henry Huey at the Round Rock Leader).


My oldest grandbrat, Aidan Vargas, prompted me to take him for a drive during the summer, and we had a blast, visiting St Louis, PetitJean Mountain in Arkansas, Prentice, WI (the destination of the trip), and Indianapolis.  I am happy to report that, at 16, Aidan is a good travel companion and can read a map.  No small feat in these days of wildly inaccurate GPS.  Here he is on PetitJean Mountain.


As well as all that, I received several nominations among Austin critics' blogs and popular polls for my efforts in costuming with Austin Theatre Project and with Sam Bass.  Competing with shows such as The King and I, my efforts have no chance of winning, but it is nice to know people are watching.

So, while there have been losses, and tears, and fears, this year is definitely one to be remembered fondly and affectionately.

Onward and Upward to new adventures!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever--2014



Well, this edition of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is one for the books.  Due to a most excellent cast and crew, we told the story and told it well.

Here are some links to galleries of pictures, some taken by a member of the audience and some by the Round Rock Leader.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/henry_huey/sets/72157649298955790/

http://rcmckee.com/wandering/archives/1314

I'm telling you--when you see these, you will wish you had been there!  Many thanks to Henry Huey of the Leader, and R Clayton McKee for the awesome photos!

I got a very young cast this time.  Usually, my cast is mostly teenagers, but this time I had more in the 8-9-10 range, and it gave the show an electricity it might lack with older kids.  Not that it doesn't work with older kids, and they usually grasp the concept more easily than younger ones.  I have done some very nice shows with kids much older than suggested in the script.

The cast of brilliant Assistant Storytellers had fun, and it showed, right up to the final, "Hey, HEY!  Unto YOU a child is born!"

The Theatre is magic.  There's magic in this theater and blessed are they who share their talents with others.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

On Getting Old--A Grumblement

Mostly...on good days...I look like this.  Many thanks to Doc List for this shot, which he took while doing show shots for Godspell with Austin Theatre Project last summer.  I was the Costumer and Wardrobe Mistress for that production.  It's nice to have a (heh) Project.


However, there are days...  This is another of Doc's shots, cropped out of a show shot for "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds," an earlier Austin Theatre Project production, in which I played Nanny.  I was amazed at the small amount of time and effort it took to make me look this bad.



I must confess, there are days when this image is burned onto my consciousness.  Days like today, when it is cold and everything hurts.  My knees, which I was told (at 21) would be a problem "later," are now a constant hurt.  The thumb on my left hand no longer bends.  My eyelashes have migrated to the general vicinity of my eyebrows, which are going wild.  Don't even get me started on the incipient mustache and the chin hairs!  I am, also, beginning to acquire a bunion.

My skin is dry and flaky; I find a new Brown Spot every few days.

On the plus side, I have flown free of some of the things I used to allow to enslave me, such as shaving my legs.  I mean, really--who cares?  Who is even looking?  I no longer wear underwired bras.  What the hell would I do with perky boobs, at my age?  I keep one such bra around, in case of theater need--

~cough~  ~Bitsy~  ~cough~

So that's my assessment of my physical condition at 65.

How are you doing, Dearly Beloved?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What Was I Thinking?

Ever a glutton for punishment, Dearly Beloved, I have done it again.

I am directing "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" at Sam Bass (www.sambasstheatre.org).  Not only that, but it was I who suggested doing so!  Of course, of all the kids who said at that time that they would love to do the show, not one came to audition.

Still, I may just have the best cast I have ever had for it, and certainly, the best crew.

Wish me luck, friends.  I will be updating.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Thick Coffee Mugs



Remember when we used to get coffee in restaurants and diners in thick mugs?  There was a reason for that.  Mom used to say it was because the breakage factor was lowered, but there was more to it.


When the waitress poured the first cup, your thick mug would warm up, cooling the coffee to a drinkable temperature pretty fast.  When you had sucked it down, and the cup was still warm, she'd be back to fill it up again.  This time, poured into a pre-heated cup, the coffee would stay hot long enough to drink it more slowly.


In these days of triple mocha lattes served in styrofoam cups, I just wanted to remind you of that.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Outlander



I love the books and I love the TV show.

I joined a couple of "fan pages" on Facebook, and continue to be appalled at people.

First, the show is based on a series of books by Diana Gabaldon.  So far, there are eight books in the series and she is working on Number Nine.  They are big books that are impossible to put down.  Do you like romances?  It's a romance.  Adventure?  You bet.  History?  Well researched and brought to life.  Science fiction?  Oh, yeah.  Sex?  Yup.  Fighting?  In spades.  In short, these books have everything I like, and tell a rollicking good story.

So STARZ picked the series up and we are seeing the first book this season, with Season Two all ready to go.  Hopefully, the whole lot will make it to TV.

Fans of the books, though, have had issues with the transfer from page to screen.  When Sam Heughan was cast as Jamie, the shit hit the fan.  His hair was not red.  He wasn't muscly enough for some.  Not tall enough, either.  He looked too old.  He looked too young.  It's as if these people never heard of hair dye, or acting.  The problem with putting books on the screen is, as always, that each individual reader has his or her own mental picture of the characters, and mine will not look exactly like yours.  You have to trust the writer, who was consulted on casting, when she said, "Sam IS Jamie."  He may not have been your Jamie, or my Jamie, but he IS Diana's Jamie, and, as she wrote him, I GUESS SHE SHOULD KNOW.

And Claire.  Oh my god, the arguments about Claire.  Catriona Balfe was cast, and, horror of horrors, she doesn't look exactly like Claire in the books, either.  Claire's eyes are whisky-gold in the books, and Cat's are blue/grey.  She is slender, and Claire is described as having a bit of a butt.  Why is her hair more curly in some scenes or episodes than others?  This coming from people who obviously have never dealt with curly hair.

Now that the show is up and running, most of the grumbling over casting has subsided.  These actors are bringing these characters to life, and the fans are analyzing every frame of footage.  The grumblement has gotten just a little nit-picky.

In the book, it is Spring when Claire goes back in time, but when it came time to film, it was Autumn in Scotland.  While a lot can be done with makeup and hair dye on actors, there is really no way to transform Autumn into Spring for an entire landscape, so they changed the time to Autumn.  The Fans howled.  Claire was wearing a print dress in the book.  In the TV show, she is wearing a white dress.  Howling ensued again.

When she undresses after she marries Jamie, her shift resembles that white dress she wore in the beginning.  I see this as the costumer and the director showing the fans why the dress was changed to white.

Now, I've been seeing complaints that the damn shift wasn't wrinkled enough when she took off her stays.  And complaints that she doesn't seem to have armpit hair.

Armpit hair.

We are looking at some of the steamiest sex ever shown on TV, and there are people worried about armpit hair.

And that's not the only thing!  The wedding ring was not the same as it was in the book. The pearls are just pearls, and not the same as the necklace described in the book.  It seems as if some people are just looking for things to dislike.

As well, people are very unhappy because of voice-overs.  Claire's story, told in the first person. There have to be voice-overs, or how are we going to see her internal monologue?  We see her face, we hear her thoughts.  This is how transition from book to film works.

A book cannot be totally transferred to film.  Changes must be made; events and characters compressed or rearranged.  This is a TV series based on a book, not a documentary of events told in the book.

There is so much going on in the world that is actually worth complaining about that I just can't see wasting time and energy looking for things to hate in a TV show.

Life is too short.  Enjoy what you have.  Fix what you can.  Eat well, get enough sleep, and greet the day with joy, for it could always be your last.

Slainte Mhaith!