Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Weekend Stuff

On Friday Thalia took her driver's test.  She needed to get the parallel parking thing down before the test (plus we needed to contemplate how to pay for the insurance, but that's an old story everyone knows).  Imagine her surprise to discover right before the test that the actual size of the test parking spot was 25 feet, and that you could be within 18 inches from the curb and still considered successful.  Really?  That's easy-peasy, especially when you've been practicing in much tighter spots.  She zipped into that spot in about 2 moves.

That evening we went to Lindenwood University to see Shrek.  I'd give the theater a rating of 4 on a scale of 1-5, and the performance a rating of 3.

We hadn't been to Lindenwood before for a performance.  It's really a nice theater overall, although they could have laid out the seats better insofar as access to long rows of seats.  Yes, you lose some seats that way, but it's nice to not have to long rows end in a wall that prohibits exiting via any path other than climbing over a bunch of other people.  At least the leg room was adequate enough for people to scooch down the row.

We'd seen Shrek at the Fox a couple of years ago.  The dragon puppet in this performance was much, much better.  Several actors did a fine job.  Although Shrek himself did a better job of his accent, something about his makeup made me all twitchy with desire to go adjust something on the back of his neck.  The overall feel of the performance was raunchier, with the more-raunchy bits supplied by performers who seemed a little less talented in their roles.  We noted some odd problems with curtains and lights.  Overall, we've become more discerning about our theater experiences since we first saw the show, so maybe that's why it was all a bit disappointing. Also, the first time we saw it we expected it to be really lame (we'd been given free tickets) and were totally caught off guard by how fun it was; this time we expected to recreate that wonderful experience, and the performance didn't live up to our expectations.

Saturday was nearly 80F, and featured leaf raking.  Also, I found a place that sells dry ice on Sundays so I could use it on Mondays in a class, so that was pretty exciting.

Sunday was a trip to the Peabody Opera House for the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular.  I'd give the theater a rating of 2 or 3, the performance a rating of 3.

We'd never been to the Peabody before.  Our seats were way way way high up in the mezzanine -- somewhat akin to trekking up Mt. Everest to reach them.  If you look online for reviews of the theater itself you'll find mention that the ushers seem a bit clueless -- our experience was similar.  The theater  really IS gorgeous.  And has no leg room.  We were on the aisle, and people arriving late could barely squeeze by us (also, the performance started 10 minutes later than the stated starting time, and people were arriving 10 or 15 minutes after it started -- what's up with that, especially for a 90 minute show?).  Perhaps if we hadn't sat in the 3rd from the top/back row I'd rate the theater higher, but at the moment I have no real desire to ever return; it would have to be something totally spectacular for me to want to go there again.

Parts of the show we saw were wonderful.  The LED backdrop was used to great effect in several numbers like the bus ride through New York and the dancing Santas.  The opening number was also great -- loved the costumes in that one, and in several others.  Overall, though, I have a tip for you -- do NOT take an Irish Dancer (retired or current) to a Rockettes performance unless you're prepared to listen to critique on whether everyone is actually on the exact correct spot in relation to the taped lines on the stage.  "I could show you teams that could keep a straighter line and they're AMATEURS instead of professionals like these dancers, plus they DON'T USE TAPE to help them!"  We really hated the Nutcracker as performed by dancing teddy bears -- I kept wondering if the dancers were regretting the years of ballet to dance pointe, only to be stuck in a bizarro bear costume -- I was embarrassed for them.   We were also sorry for the kids who performed in the vignettes with Santa -- the script was so bad, the pacing totally off, Santa himself was just plain annoying -- those kids were in a no-win situation.  Why did so many Wise Men slog across the stage during We THREE Kings?  Why did the Wise Men arrive at the stable and burst forth into a song about angels, when no angels were involved in that moment?  Speaking of angels, the angel suspended in the air during the earlier vignette reminded me of Carol Kane in The Princess Bride, except the angel's hair shone green in the lighting.

We RAN down the many many tiny steps from our seats at the end, which, by the way, was quite an accomplishment given the slope of the stairs and the busy pattern of the carpet on the stairs which made it difficult to discern where one stair ended and the next began.  Then we scurried down the 4 flights of stairs from the mezzanine to the main level so we didn't have to wait for the inadequate elevators.  Out the door, and down the myriad steps from the front of the building, past the homeless panhandlers, and through all the traffic that was apparently using Market Street as an alternate to eastbound highway 64 (actually, I have no idea why so many people were going east on Market St. at 8pm on a rainy Sunday night -- it was pretty weird, though, since the rest of downtown seemed fairly deserted).

In retrospect I don't so much feel like I've had an early kickoff to the Christmas season as a sense of relief that those performances are OVER.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday

Before the Halloween costume sewing, I was working on Simplicity 2689 for Annabeth.  She wanted it tunic length.  It still needs a hem (you can see pins at the bottom left of this photo where we were figuring out the length).  And it needs a belt, since it turned out looking like scrubs.  Also, the sleeve length and width is wrong for her, so we need to figure out what to do about that.

But the sewing machine is currently in use with Annabeth's project for sewing class, which is a hot pink skirt.  She's having a lot of fun making it, learning a lot.  I'd recommend this pattern, Simplicity 2226, for beginners.  Occasionally she'll ask me something along the lines of, "The directions say to do XYZ -- should I?"  and I'll say, "Nah, that's really not necessary."  But those are typically little things that would be handy to do if you haven't grown up around sewing -- things like pinning the interfacing onto the yoke before fusing it, which Annabeth felt very confident doing with this particular fabric and interfacing sans pins.

On the knitting front, a month or so ago I started knitting Uma from Chic Knits patterns.  I think my lack of progress is testament to my interest level -- so far I've only made the upper back and part of the upper left front.  (It didn't help that I suddenly decided to reread Ender's Game, which is much, much more exciting than a plain cardigan.)

So I decided maybe it was time to find a new project.  I logged on Ravelry the other morning to browse for ideas, and ended up finding this video

 and sat there watching it 3 times in a row rather than looking at any patterns whatsoever. I think this may mean that I'm just not that excited about knitting right now.

Lots of other stuff in the works, too -- Girl Scouts Fall Product Sale, plus Silver Award work, figuring out dual-enrollment classes for next semester, refinishing the stairway, auditions for Seussical in a couple of week -- more on all of that later.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

With Catlike Tread

Halloween 2012

Princess Aurora handed out candy at our house...
 The bare feet sort of drove me nuts -- it wasn't THAT warm.

while the Pirates of Penzance roamed the streets of the neighborhood
Vest is Simplicity 3809.  Shirts are from Shakespeare performances last summer, borrowed from the costume shop, as are the swords. I'm pretty sure the eye patch used up all the eye liner in the house.

Early evening version up the street:

Later they added a sword fight at the end.  And did an encore when the 2nd pirate's mom came to pick her up, although the next morning I noticed the 2nd pirate hadn't put the bandana back on her head for this video.

Some people realized that Thalia had left the act.  Others counted the same number of performers as last year and just said something along the lines of, "Oh, I always love it when you show up!"  And still others were new to the neighborhood this year.  Various neighbors recalled fondly the Irish Dance extravaganza, although one was convinced that was last year (that was 2 years ago). 

Mostly I felt sorry for the 3 girls the same age who showed up right after them at a house with no plans to even tell a joke -- the people asked them, "So, are you going to sing?"

New idea: Maybe we should hand out ballots like they do at the Muny, so people could vote on what they want to see next year.