Wednesday, November 30, 2011

50,000 Words.... Done.

Well, there's one thing done that was taking up my time this month.

I gave up on my novel being any good long ago, but it feels to have accomplished it nonetheless.

When I realized I had less than 100 words left, I decided I was going to have some fun with the ending. So in the middle of a very tense confrontation between the protagonist and her boss, this happened:

I stared at Dr. Crance for just a moment, then stood to my feet, pressed the secret ballroom dance button under my desk, and as the tango music began to blare through the office, I grabbed him in my arms and said, “Now is not the time to be suspicious. Now is the time to dance!” Maria peeked her head in the door to find out what was going on, but then noticed Dr. Crance and I whirling madly about the room in our dance, an artistic expression of our mutual rage toward each other, and she ducked back out, as she should have.
From that day on, Dr. Crance and I were best buds, and we always enjoyed our mid morning dance breaks.

The End.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Musical Spotlight: Sleeping Beauty Wakes

I knew I would have to address this musical sooner or later, and I'm on a Groovelily kick these days, so it looks like "sooner" is the right answer. :-)

Sleeping Beauty Wakes is probably my favorite musical at the moment. It was written by my favorite band, Groovelily. It's a musical nobody's ever heard of by a band nobody's ever heard of, but it is AMAZING stuff. It tells the story of Sleeping Beauty waking up after her 1000-year sleep. She wakes up in a modern day sleep clinic. The narrative jumps back and forth between the original Sleeping Beauty narrative (how she got here) and picking up from when she wakes up.

The clips I found here are from a concert version of the show Groovelily performed. They only have three band members, so there's lots of doubling up on characters.

Narrowing this down to my favorite songs is nearly impossible, since I sincerely love each and every song in this show (which never happens for me). So I tried to choose the ones I was drawn to most immediately.

Disclaimer: This is one of those shows that I love so much that it's hard to actually articulate why I love it. I've done my best, but at its core it's just full of songs that resonate with me on a deep emotional level - even the upbeat ones. So these blurbs are short and really never capture why I love any of the songs, no matter how hard I try.

1. Can You Cure Me?
The opening song of the show, sung by the patients at the sleep disorder clinic. I remember this song instantly catching my attention when I sat down to listen to the CD. I like its cheerful little tune and the descriptions of all the different sleep disorders these patients deal with. The harmonies sound a little weird in the live version but they sound pretty great on the CD.

2. Uninvited
The villain song of the show, sung by the wicked fairy about not being invited to the party. This song is incredibly satisfying to sing along to on a bad day. The rhymes are fun, the lyrics are entertaining, the music does exactly what it should for an angry villainess' rock anthem.

3. I Think You Understand
Sung by Sleeping Beauty's father. He's managed to get enough magic to stay alive until his daughter wakes up after 1000 years, and he visits her every day in the sleep disorder clinic to tell her what's going on in the world, even though he knows she can't really hear him. This song is a soft, simple, beautiful little ballad that occasionally makes me tear up a little.

4. Drifting
This song... ahhhh, this song! The princess is tired of her overprotective parents and sneaks out to go for a midnight swim with the groundskeeper's son. It's an absolutely gorgeous love ballad that just melts me into a big puddle whenever I heard it. There's something so haunting for me about the lyrics at the end of the chorus: "I'm almost always never touching you." This whole song has such an atmosphere of "almost" - there's something there between these two, but they aren't sure exactly what or if they could do anything about it if they knew. Sometimes, when I really listen to this song, it literally takes my breath away for a moment.

5. I Dare Say I'm In Love
The live recording doesn't do this song justice, really. There are some awesome counterpart moments that work better when they're mixed all nicely on the CD. But I still love this song. It's sung by one of the orderlies at the sleep disorder clinic who has fallen in love with Sleeping Beauty now that she's awake. It's such a sweet, cheerful song, and it just always makes me smile whenever I listen to it.

It's breaking me a little bit that I've limited myself to only 5 songs and so can't include the beautifully sad Everything Changes But You, the ominous The Wheel Goes Round, the lullaby Dream With Me, the quirky Out of Harm's Way, or any of the other wonderful songs in this show. Except I kind of cheated just now by linking all those. :-)

If you enjoyed these, I *highly* recommend... well, pretty much everything else Groovelily's ever done. You can find all their songs here on their site (and can even listen to them all fully to see if you like them). I highly recommend their other musicals - their demo of Long Story Short has given me some of my very favorite showtunes of all time.

And that is Sleeping Beauty Wakes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The "What? They Did Musical Theater?" Mix

In the middle of a Star Trek conversation with a friend last week, I mentioned that Brent Spiner (Data from TNG) was a musical theater guy. This led to a discussion of famous celebrities who had done musical theater but weren't really known for it. And I thought, "Oh, right. I've always wanted to make a mix like that."

Initially the plan was to make an "I Didn't Know They Could Sing" mix, intending to include people who had released solo albums or been in bands, but as I started collecting songs, I ended up focusing mostly on cast recordings, so I decided, whatever, I'd just make it about the theater people. Also, when I pulled the list together, all but one of them were guys, so I kicked the one female performer off in favor of a slightly more unified theme. (Sorry, Glenn Close, people are going to have to look up your Sunset Boulevard performances on their own.)

So! Not a lot of commentary here - mostly just the tracklist and links. And, actually, I don't physically own all these songs yet, so no downloadable mix (yet). In the meantime, listen to the songs provided on YouTube.

1. "Rosie" from Bye Bye Birdie, performed by Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation)
I first discovered Brent Spiner was a singer when I heard him in the 1997 Broadway revival cast of 1776, where he played John Adams. He's also released a CD of jazz standards called "Ol' Yellow Eyes Is Back," so if you liked this, check that out.

2. "Marry Me a Little" from Company, performed by John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who and Torchwood)
I knew John Barrowman from musical theater long before I started watching Doctor Who. I had seen clips of him in the Sondheim revue Putting It Together (which is where this performance comes from), and then I discovered some of the clips from his Sunset Boulevard. He's also released several CDs.

3. "Sweet Transvestite" from The Rocky Horror Show, performed by Anthony Stewart Head (Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Most of the cast of Buffy got to sing in the musical episode from season six, but Anthony Stewart Head was a musical theater person long before that, with performances in Rocky Horror, Pirates of Penzance, Chess, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

4. "Not the Boy Next Door" from The Boy From Oz, performed by Hugh Jackman (Wolverine from X-Men)
Most people are aware of Hugh Jackman's musical theater prowess now - he's sung while hosting award shows and there are all sorts of jokes made about the fact that he's both an action movie star and a Broadway singer. But for anyone who wasn't aware of it... here he is at the Tonys with Boy From Oz (he won Best Actor in a Musical that year).

5. "Put on a Happy Face" from Bye Bye Birdie, performed by Jason Alexander (George Costanza from Seinfeld)
I find Jason Alexander's voice to be oddly soothing. This particular clip is from the 1995 TV cast of Bye Bye Birdie, but he's also had plenty of theaterperformances as well. He even won the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in Jerome Robbins' Broadway in 1989.

6. "Why Can't the English?" from My Fair Lady, performed by Jeremy Irons (Scar from The Lion King...and a lot of other things)
Jeremy Irons has indeed done a fair amount of musical theater. Here he carries on the Rex Harrison tradition of speak-singing Professor Henry Higgins' songs, but he's also been in productions of A Little Night Music and Camelot.

7. "Show People" from Curtains, performed by David Hyde Pierce (Niles Crane from Frasier)
I have to admit, I have never seen even one episode of Frasier. So I only ever knew David Hyde Pierce from Spamalot and Curtains. Well, and A Bug's Life. Here he is at the Tony Awards.

8. "Children Will Listen" from Into the Woods, performed by Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya. You killed his father. Prepare to die)
Mandy Patinkin's kind of a big deal in musical theater land. Among other things, he starred in the original casts of Sunday in the Park With George, Evita, and The Secret Garden. I've never been a huge fan of his (his voice is a style I've never been fond of) but he most definitely belongs on this mix.

9. "Guido's Song" from Nine, performed by Antonio Banderas (everybody knows who he is, right?)
Besides playing Che in the movie version of Evita, Antonio Banderas was also in the 2003 revival cast of Nine, which got him nominated for a Tony. He's set to play the title role in the Broadway revival of the Kander and Ebb musical Zorba, opening... uh... sometime. Wikipedia said fall of 2011, but that is nearly over, so not sure what's happening with that.

10. "Try to Remember" from The Fantasticks, performed by Jerry Orbach (Lennie Briscoe from Law & Order)
Jerry Orbach was also kind of a big deal in musical theater world. He originated this role in The Fantasticks, Chuck in Promises, Promises, Julian Marsh in 42nd Street, and Billy Flynn in Chicago. At least he got to sing when he voice Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.

11. "Half As Big As Life" from Promises, Promises, performed by Sean Hayes (Jack McFarland from Will & Grace)
And here's another celebrity in the role that Jerry Orbach originated. I actually got to see this production in New York and while Sean Hayes is not a terribly strong singer, he was a very likable protagonist and was definitely fun to watch in the role. He was nominated for a Tony for this part.

12. "Is Anybody There?" from 1776, performed by William Daniels (Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World)
I only watched Boy Meets World once or twice ever, so William Daniels was always John Adams to me. He reprised his Broadway role in the 1972 film version of 1776 and is fantastic. He's not really much of a singer, but does an amazing job portraying the character.

13. "Luck Be a Lady" from Guys and Dolls, performed by Peter Gallagher (Sandy Cohen from The O.C.)
OK, I don't watch The O.C. either, but apparently that's where a lot of my friends know him from. I knew him as the coma guy from While You Were Sleeping. But back before that, he was in the Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls with Josie de Guzman, Nathan Lane and Faith Prince in 1992.

Two links here because the first one has video, which I think is so much more fun with this song, but the quality isn't great. The second link is the cast recording version. Jesse Tyler Ferguson sings my very favorite song from this show, playing an easily distracted young child who comes from a large family. This song always makes me laugh, and he does a great job with it.

And that's my mix! I'm sure I'll eventually think of more, so there might eventually be a part 2, but I figured this was a good introduction to some people who I always associate with musical theater, but nobody else does. Heh.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Some Thoughts on Personal Boundaries

Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time with me probably knows that I have a rather large personal space bubble. I don't much like to be touched. I'm OK with occasional hugs that mean something - "I'm sorry you had a crappy day" hugs are fine, as are "I haven't seen you in a year and I missed you" hugs. But I don't like flippant or teasing physical contact, I don't like people stroking my face (had a group of people who tried to do this to people one year... creeped me the heck out), and, most of all, I really don't like casual acquaintances to touch me.

I'm understanding when people don't know this about me and try to give me affectionate physical contact. If it's a one-time thing I'll let it slide, but if it starts happening a lot (some people are just much more likely to express themselves physically) I will explain to them, "Well, thank you, but actually I don't really like to be touched. It's not really my thing." Most of the time, they just go, "Oh! OK, I didn't know, I'll try not to do that again," and we're all fine.

And then... sometimes things like this happen.

I had an encounter once where I ran into a couple people who I know are particularly touchy-feely. I knew they were probably both going to try and hug me, and I simply didn't have the energy to deal with that. So as I approached them, I said, "I'm sorry, I'm not feeling well today" (not entirely true, but it's a good introvert fallback phrase). One of them said out loud, "No hugs today, huh?" and I sort of smiled back and said, "No, please, not today," and walked past them.

Crisis averted.


One of them then chased me down and hugged me anyway. When he finally let me go, he said he hoped I felt better and I left.

This made me angry me for at least a week and a half after it happened.

I have similar experiences every once in awhile. Usually it's extroverts who do this to me, but not always - sometimes just outgoing introverts (no, that term is not an oxymoron). I think they think it's cute or endearing or kind of a playful teasing action.

Well, it's not. It really, truly isn't.

It's one thing if you don't know. If I've never told you this, there's a little leniency there. And my very close friends who I feel comfortable with are allowed more physical contact (on good days when I'm not tense or on edge).

But if I outright say I don't want to be hugged in that moment, and you ignore that and hug me anyway... that's harassment. Even if you didn't mean it like that, that's what it is. You've decided that I don't really mean it, that it's not really that big a deal, that you don't have to follow the rules I've presented. Except, uh, you kind of do. Because this is my body and if I say you can't touch it, then you can't touch it. No matter how innocent or playful it's supposed to be, no matter if you think it'll cheer me up (you're wrong). If you step over that line for any reason, you make me feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

Personal boundaries aren't a joke. They really aren't. And ignoring them makes you creepy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

October Movies

Well, October was a pretty busy month for me. Brief recap of some of the highlights:

1. I turned 25 years old. Although that didn't really take time out of my life, it just happened.

2. That musical theater revue happened - it went stupendously well and I had a great time.

3. Rehearsals for Once Upon a Mattress really got going. We open tomorrow night and I'm really impressed with the show. No matter how many times I see it in rehearsal, the cast continues to make me laugh.

4. I went home for fall break only to find my mother in the hospital with stroke-like symptoms. She was in the hospital on and off throughout the entire break. They now think she was having seizures caused by cluster migraines, and she's home and being medicated for it.

5. And last, but certainly not least, I began dating one of my very close school friends. I've never been in any kind of a relationship before so this is all new and exciting and strange... and we will see where it all goes from here.

All that to say... I didn't really end up with a lot of movie-watching time. In fact, I only watched six the entire month. One of them (Bitter Moon) was mentioned in my last movie update, so I'll go ahead and tell you about the other five I managed to squeeze in.

Boy A (2007). Don't want to give too much of the plot away, but Andrew Garfield plays someone with a past who is trying to start over. Garfield's performance is what sells the movie for me. The rest is OK, but he is amazing. 4/5.

A Serious Man (2009). A man's life starts falling apart and he tries to find meaning in it. I *almost* loved this, but couldn't quite connect the ending to the rest of it, and so ended up being let down. 3.5/5.

Mean Girls (2004). Lindsay Lohan plays a homeschooler who has to go to public school for the first time and finds herself involved with, well, mean girls. I watched this with a group of friends because when they found out I hadn't seen it, they all yelled, "I LOVE MEAN GIRLS AND WE ARE WATCHING IT RIGHT NOW!" I wasn't that enthusiastic, but the script is smart and I laughed more than I thought I would. 3.5/5.

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011). Creepy stuff happens in a house, and people try to get it on camera. The same group of friends convinced me to see this (even though I haven't seen the first two), and I was much less impressed. It's not scary, just startling. The only gimmick that worked for me was when they put the camera on an oscillating fan, which did a good job of building tension as you tried to work out what you were looking at. Overall, not even remotely impressed. 1.5/5.

Wild Strawberries (1957). A doctor receiving an award reminisces about his life and whether it has meant anything. This one was technically impressive and well-done, but I never actually connected with it, for whatever reason. 3/5.

All right! On to November! Where I will do one show, start rehearsal for another, and attempt NaNoWriMo! So... no hopes for a lot of movies this month either, unless I squeeze in a bunch during Thanksgiving break, which is absolutely possible.