Tuesday, November 29, 2016

We Slayed the competition

Jacob and I went to a Buffy the Vampire Slayer trivia night at a bar called Abbey Tavern and...drumroll please...CAME SECOND

The genuine joy that this achievement brings both of us is a testament to just how much we love that TV series.

And if I achieve nothing else this year, I ran that 10k and I came second at Buffy trivia. We were 8 points behind the winning team - but they were a team of four and we were just two so I think if the teams had been even we would have wiped the floor with them.
We won a $25 voucher for Abbey Tavern so that's a couple of free burgers or something! Fun way to spend an evening with a friend.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Park Power

Well I just ran 10.7k or 6.62 miles.

I mean, yesterday I and everyone else ate a week's worth of food in one sitting so...let's not congratulate me too hard.  This was both penance and necessary! I feel great as a result.  I love the park loop when it's empty, it's very soothing.  It was also a perfect temperature - it's cold but it doesn't have that icy chill that renders me completely useless.  This is a temperature that somehow makes me automatically pace myself perfectly.  I didn't plan on running to the park, around the park and back from the park but when I set out it felt so light and easy that I just kept going.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, which for me means neurotic recipe hunting, baking and of course gathering with some of my nearest and dearest.  I was also on Maverick duty so I did start my day with a big loveable dog which is always something to be thankful for.  I went over there at 9, took him for a walk then went home to start the food part of the day.  
I enjoyed a new Thanksgiving novelty this year - brunch while watching a live stream of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  This was the brainchild of one Carlos Morales, and I applaud his wisdom.  We did the whole thing, French toast and mimosas and fruit and bacon, all delicious.  This kicked off my afternoon of cooking.  I made cranberry sauce (with blueberries and orange and lemon zest), a pumpkin pie (crust from scratch, of course) a huge apple pear cake with a caramel topping (this I am especially proud of because I made the caramel and it came out perfect - not grainy, not burnt, glossy creamy and not too sweet) and a bread and onion stuffing.
After a quick nap (because phew, long day already by 4pm) we packed up our wares and travelled to a tall narrow house with a blue door, where Ali and Ben were our Friendsgiving hosts (as they were last year).
The whole evening was like a big warm bowl of friend soup.  And the table of dishes - some made in house by Ben and Ali, others brought by guests - was heaving and amazing.  There was a beautiful turkey, in addition to which Ben made slow cooked beef and root vegetables cooked in a beer butter.  Sweet potato mash, bread stuffing, rice stuffing, collard greens, green beans, cranberry sauce, gravy, something new I learned about called a hash brown casserole that is potato based and covered with - wait for it - corn flakes.  When this dish was brought out, Natalia, Jamie, Sam and I - foreigners all - gathered around staring in bewilderment, waiting for someone to explain the dish of cornflakes.  It was made by the wonderful Lauren D-C who is from North Carolina and she explained that it is a very typical Southern thing.  (It was very tasty).  Ali also makes a squash casserole that blows my mind, she made it last year and this year she made two to satisfy demand.  I'm very fortunate to be friends with many good cooks.  The dessert bar was also high although less homemade I think - Naty made a sort of cookie-based dulce de leche cheesecake that she invented as she went along, very indulgent.  My cake and pie were amongst another couple of pies including pumpkin and pecan.  I'm happy to report my cake went down well with my gracious host Ben as I was very proud of it.

Ben also had a music playlist based around Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings as per my request...what can I say, we have mutual musical respect so I thought I'd ask and I received.  A Muppet Christmas Carol was on TV in the background, jokes were cracked, small amounts of dancing broke out, wine flowed and it was altogether a feelgood indie movie-worthy scene.

 Parade brunch



My masterpieces!







Of course we ate ourselves silly.  Fortunately, I did have to leave at a relatively early hour to head back to Maverick - I mean, I left at 10 and walked him at 12, taking leftovers with me - this was really for the best because it prevented me from continuing to sneak spoonfuls of squash casserole, also it forced me to move which surely prevented food coma suffering.  

Today funnily enough I haven't had any large meals.  Though I have had a small slice of apple cake and plan on more! 

And long live my reignited running motivation - I hope this wasn't a fluke!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Ah, nice mild AutuOHMYGODWINTERISHERE

It's cold today! After two weeks of 16 degree weather it's suddenly in the 0-5 range. Arp.  I spent the evening baking things that didn't necessarily need baking so I could keep the oven on and stand near it.  Cracking apple crumble though.


Other warm things include dopey retrievers

Catch ups with friends

Breakfast foods at 5pm 

Going to the cinema to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (with cake)
and being really cool by taking pictures with Eddie Redmayne cardboard cutouts wearing matching Harry Potter paraphernalia necklaces



It's Thanksgiving on Thursday which essentially means day off, excuse to bake. 
Generally a quiet week, auditions coming up next week, no clue what's happening in December.  I'd say I'm feeling some of the post-show blues - I know The Unseen has been finished for a while but with all the election furore my PSB got delayed.  When you wrap a show that really set a fire in you, you miss the work and the fulfillment and the people.  So thank goodness for PSB - no PSB means it was probably not worth doing.  

And that's what they call perspective! 
Eating more crumble and doing a crossword while the wind and the white nationalists howl outside.
Oh snap!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Aftershock

Well.

That happened.


................



I'm reeling so I can't even imagine how the American voters feel.  Especially the many friends who have parents who voted against their children.  They voted for a moron, but even aside from the obvious lunacy of someone who can't string a cohesive sentence together being a presidential candidate there is the frightening presence of Mike Pence.  Here's a few of his votes over the past few years


  • Commit to unalienable right to life, including the unborn. (Feb 2008)
  • Voted YES on banning federal health coverage that includes abortion. (May 2011)
  • Voted NO on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines. (Jan 2007)
  • Voted NO on allowing human embryonic stem cell research. (May 2005)
  • Voted YES on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions. (Apr 2005)
  • Voted YES on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime. (Feb 2004)
  • Voted YES on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mother’s life. (Oct 2003)
  • Voted YES on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research. (Feb 2003)
  • Voted YES on funding for health providers who don't provide abortion info. (Sep 2002)
  • Voted YES on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad. (May 2001)
  • Voted YES on federal crime to harm fetus while committing other crimes. (Apr 2001)
  • Rated 0% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • Rated 100% by the NRLC, indicating a pro-life stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Prohibit transporting minors across state lines for abortion. (Jan 2008)
  • Bar funding for abortion under federal Obamacare plans. (Jul 2010)
  • Ban abortions for sex selection or race selection. (Dec 2011)
  • Prohibit federal funding for abortion. (May 2011)
  • Prohibiting forced abortions by UN Population Fund. (May 2011)
  • Sponsored bill to prohibit fed funding of Planned Parenthood. (Jan 2011)
  • Grant the pre-born equal protection under 14th Amendment. (Jan 2007)
  • Declare preborn as persons under 14th amendment. (Feb 2009)
  • Future of conservatism demands traditional marriage. (Feb 2008)
  • Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Nov 2007)
  • Voted YES on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman. (Jul 2006)
  • Voted YES on making the PATRIOT Act permanent. (Dec 2005)
  • Voted YES on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Sep 2004)
  • Voted YES on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance. (Sep 2004)
  • Voted YES on constitutional amendment prohibiting flag desecration. (Jun 2003)
  • Supports anti-flag desecration amendment. (Mar 2001)
  • Require "Privacy Impact Statement" on new federal rules. (Apr 2002)
  • Rated 7% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
  • Rated 0% by the HRC, indicating an anti-gay-rights stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Rated 22% by the NAACP, indicating an anti-affirmative-action stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Amend Constitution to define traditional marriage. (Jun 2008)
  • Voted NO on enforcing against anti-gay hate crimes. (Apr 2009)
  • Voted YES on expanding services for offenders' re-entry into society. (Nov 2007)
  • Reduce recidivism by giving offenders a Second Chance. (Mar 2007)

  • Voted YES on reauthorizing the DC opportunity scholarship program. (Mar 2011)
  • Voted NO on $40B for green public schools. (May 2009)
  • Voted NO on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects. (Nov 2007)
  • Voted NO on allowing Courts to decide on "God" in Pledge of Allegiance. (Jul 2006)
  • Voted NO on $84 million in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges. (Mar 2006)
  • Voted YES on allowing school prayer during the War on Terror. (Nov 2001)
  • Voted NO on requiring states to test students. (May 2001)
  • Let schools display the words "God Bless America". (Oct 2001)
  • Rated 17% by the NEA, indicating anti-public education votes. (Dec 2003)
  • Constitutionally guarantee parent's right to educate kids. (Jan 2011)
  • Voted YES on opening Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling. (May 2011)
  • Voted YES on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. (Apr 2011)
  • Voted NO on enforcing limits on CO2 global warming pollution. (Jun 2009)
  • Voted NO on tax credits for renewable electricity, with PAYGO offsets. (Sep 2008)
  • Voted NO on tax incentives for energy production and conservation. (May 2008)
  • Voted NO on tax incentives for renewable energy. (Feb 2008)
  • Voted NO on investing in homegrown biofuel. (Aug 2007)
  • Voted NO on criminalizing oil cartels like OPEC. (May 2007)
  • Voted NO on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies. (Jan 2007)
  • Voted NO on keeping moratorium on drilling for oil offshore. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted YES on scheduling permitting for new oil refinieries. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted YES on authorizing construction of new oil refineries. (Oct 2005)
  • Voted YES on passage of the Bush Administration national energy policy. (Jun 2004)
  • Voted YES on implementing Bush-Cheney national energy policy. (Nov 2003)
  • Voted NO on raising CAFE standards; incentives for alternative fuels. (Aug 2001)
  • Voted NO on prohibiting oil drilling & development in ANWR. (Aug 2001)
  • Rated 0% by the CAF, indicating opposition to energy independence. (Dec 2006)
  • Bar greenhouse gases from Clean Air Act rules. (Jan 2009)
  • Signed the No Climate Tax Pledge by AFP. (Nov 2010)
  • No EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. (Jan 2011)
  • Drill the Outer Continental Shelf; & license new nuke plants. (Mar 2011)
  • Set goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025. (Jan 2007)
  • Voted NO on $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program. (Jul 2009)
  • Voted NO on protecting free-roaming horses and burros. (Jul 2009)
  • Voted NO on $9.7B for Amtrak improvements and operation thru 2013. (Jun 2008)
  • Voted NO on increasing AMTRAK funding by adding $214M to $900M. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted NO on barring website promoting Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. (May 2006)
  • Voted YES on deauthorizing "critical habitat" for endangered species. (Sep 2005)
  • Voted YES on speeding up approval of forest thinning projects. (Nov 2003)
  • Rated 10% by the LCV, indicating anti-environment votes. (Dec 2003)
  • Stop considering manure as pollutant or hazardous. (Sep 2011)
  • Rated 0% by HSLF, indicating an anti-animal welfare voting record. (Jan 2012)
  • Strengthen prohibitions against animal fighting. (Jan 2007)

You know, I don't want to be one of the many left wing women who are calling for impeachment and protests and generally reacting in a really dramatic way to this undeniable shock.  I understand that this is how a democratic voting process works (altough...hardly, since the electoral college system here in the US means the popular vote actually means nothing in the end) but you know, it was a peaceful day of people of all genders and demographics being able to cast their vote.  That's great.
Having a Vice President who stridently inserts his Evangelical beliefs into his work as a political is not great.  He's anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ rights, pro-fossil fuel industry, and a lot of his votes (like the one prohibiting legal action against food providers) suggest a pro-corporate stance too.
He doesn;t want to help workers who lose jobs as a result of globalization, he didn't want to give grants to black and Hispanic colleges, he voted against protecting free roaming horses??? What did they ever do to him??
Oh, he also doesn't want to increase gun regulation measures such as trigger lock law and gun registration.  He wants to increase military spending - in fact he wants to just have money lying around so that whenever they feel like it the US has the resources to go to war.  Like, if there's nothing good on TV, or something.
Opposed to church-state separation.  Anti-union and anti-senior voting record.
Wants to designate first weekend in May as Ten Commandments weekend...
whut

I know.  I know everyone is a three-dimensional entity.  Some of his economic stances seem reasonable.  He's a seasoned pro, he's held office for many years.

But because an Evangelical Catholic who uses his faith as an excuse to repress socioeconomic groups is now Vice President of the United States of America, a gateway has been opened.

After Brexit, the people who were shouting that everyone who voted for Brexit was a racist and a fascist were wrong.  That wasn't the case.  Plenty of them were I'm sure but plenty of others based their vote on economic reasons.  Plenty more just didn't know any better, were uninformed enough to let propaganda sway them and never investigate any further.

But because what they wanted came true, the racist faction felt their ideologies validated in some way.  Which gave them the confidence to come out of the woodwork with an agenda of damaging discrimination.  And that is the true horror here now.  
The KKK is still active.  White supremacists are a real thing here.  And they all came crawling out the woodwork during Trump's campaign and now they feel that their ideologies have been validated, because never in his campaign did he tell his supporters 'hey, no, that's what what I'm about'.  So they are feeling pretty confident now, and I ache for my many close friends who would be their direct targets if they weren't in liberal, bleeding-blue NYC.  

That's all I have for now.  New York is a weird place today.  It's raining, and everyone is quiet and stone faced.  

Friday, November 4, 2016

Bulletin

I'm very very tired so this will be neither big nor clever

The Unseen has three additional performances Sunday Monday and Tuesday because, well, because we can! We don't have to hire studio space to do it! Ha!
The last couple of shows were really well attended and my dear friends Ali, Ben, Sam, Val, Rosi, Lauren and Jacob all turned out to see it and I'm delighted by how much they not only enjoyed it but appreciated the work, careful crafting and vision that went into it.

Tuesday is also election day in the USA so everyone grab a puppy or a deity or a bottle, whatever works.  I'll be with friends at FTP's Raucous Caucus open mic party.

Monday and Tuesday are also days on which a couple of super interesting auditions are happening so think good thoughts for Tessa and her contemporary dancer friends.

Aside from general busy and tiredness it's been a lovely week of seeing excellent people and some more Mav-sitting which of course is always a ray of sunshine no matter what fatigue is dragging you down.

Babysitting at 7.30 in the morning tomorrow - eep! I hope no-one will judge me if I just feed them cake disguised as breakfast food while watching childrens TV with them for three hours. I know they won't.
Yahli turned ten last weekend. Yipes.

I'm going to have a quick drink close to home tonight to celebrate my evening off then get rapidly to bed. Toodle pip

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Unseen part 2

We have had three performances so far. Unfortunately we've been rained out twice but we have been able to add dates and extend the run - the many benefits of a small cast, self-contained show where the company producers directors and supporters are all tightly intermingled. Also, the benefits of performing in a park - the space is always available to us and it costs zero money!
The three so far have been, from my p.o.v at least, been successful and we've had excellent audience feedback. No technical issues to speak of - or none that anyone but us would know about - and we've even been picking up stragglers: two nights I looked out directly at the audience at appointed moments and noticed new faces that hadn't been there when I initially stared them down at the beginning (during the Seance - I make my appearance in the centre of the circle and walk around the whole circumference making close eye contact with everyone in it. It's really fun to see how different people handle it - some giggle, some hold my gaze earnestly, some look nervous, some smile encouragingly) anyway so one night I looked up and there was a man taking pictures and he must have some very cool pictures because he caught us in tableau with the wind blowing our long skirts, and he found us at the end to ask what we were doing. And last night a man who was walking his dogs almost caused chaos when one of them ran over, obviously curious about the white billowy figures walking down the hill but the man spotted it in time, called his dogs and went to join the audience. It's fun and unpredictable, this site specific lark!
Rained out tonight unfortunately but a productive company meeting to add new dates and have dinner together (on our dirctor's parents, thank you Slack family).

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Unseen

It's show week!
I'm headed up to invited dress rehearsal now. Natalia will be attending and will be valuable in lending her keen physical theatre eye to any last minute adjustments we can make.

I'm going to attempt to give a sense of what this show involves since so few will be able to see it and it really is something special.

I'll start with a plot summary.

Amy is a graduate student at Columbia getting her Master's in sociology. She's dealing with some personal stuff that has been holding her back and keeping her from finishing in the alotted year.
The other day while walking in midtown, her friend convinced her to get a reading from one of many $5 street psychics. She does so for the fun of it but is surprised to find that the psychic has insight into things about herself that she's never told anyone. She could have dismissed it if the psychic hadn't also told her that she should get in touch with the past to understand her present - and Amy recently discovered, while procrastinating in her studies, that an ancestor of hers implicated someone in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, leading to the hanging of the girl she accused. Deciding that the discovery of a significant ancestor and the psychics' words were maybe some kind of synergy, Amy was relunctantly convinced to gather a group of people to conduct a seance to contact her ancestor, Laura Booth.
She chooses Fort Tryon Park around Halloween as the time and place for the seance and the psychic gives her a pre-recorded guided seance to take her through its initiation.
The group forms a circle, joins hands and begins to repeat a chant as instructed when a new voice shouts 'open your eyes!' interrupting the recording. Amy does, startled, and finds herself face to face with a young woman in Puritan dress. Amy is terrified but realises this could be the Laura she was hoping to summon. The apparition tells her 'do you really want to know what happened? Then don't blink. Don't look away'.
Laura performs a movemeny ritual that awakens the spirits of three other young women and a Reverend. They all walk away and Laura beckons Amy (and the group, though she can only communicate with Amy) to follow.
They are lead to a church where the Reverend preaches about the inherent sin of women and how the town must extra vigilant in light of goings on in nearby Salem. After his sermon the young women show the group a glimpse into their inner life - they are well-behaved good Puritan girls but impulses and feelings pulse inside for which they have no outlet or explanation, and to question them would mean severe punishment.
After church the four of them leave to go home. Laura, the unruly ringleader of the group, instead initiates a game of catch with the Bible that the Reverend (who is new in town and about whom little is known) pressed into her hands at the end of the service. She proceeds to run away with it, tearing out pages and scattering them. Her best friend Mary laughs, the new girl in town Sarah smirks and encourages her and Elizabeth, the most God-fearing, tries in horror to put the pages back. The girls continue on their path home.
Laura steps out of the story to communicate with Amy who asks why she is being shown this and who the other girls are. Laura explains that it was her idea to not go home, to run off and dance in the woods instead and that although the girls looked young, in truth they were all caught on the brink of adulthood with no way to navigate or control it.
Laura returns to the story to show Amy and the group what happened next. The girls dance and play and begin to run deeper into the woods, but Mary stays behind. Laura goes to find out why, and they dance together in the trees. Something changes between them as they do and Mary kisses Laura, an action so bold and unheard of that Laura is shocked. Mary runs away frightened and Laura turns to see Sarah approaching - she has seen it all, and Laura knows it. Elizabeth runs over to warn them that someone is coming. It's the Reverend, who is displeased that they are out in the woods at night instead of at home as nice pure girls should be. He blames Laura for the transgression but Sarah sees an opportunity to get Laura under her thumb and deflects the blame to Mary. The accusation escalates quickly and the Reverend fears they have been witches. Laura doesn't want to implicate her friend but she is terrified of what will happen to her if Sarah tells the Reverend who's idea it was and what she witnessed before he arrived. She agrees that it was Mary and they all set off to find her.
Elizabeth is afraid and decides to slip away and go home. She encounters Mary hiding, and tells her she can't talk to her or look at her because she's a witch and everyone will know it soon. Mary doesn't know what she's talking about and tries to get the truth but poor scared Elizabeth really believes that she is a witch and will not help her.
Meanwhile the Reverend, Sarah and Laura are searching. Sarah is subtly manipulating the situation by pretending to be concerned while shooting warning looks at Laura - she is enjoying finally being top dog. She persuades the Reverend to let them sit down for a while. Her new found power has started to go to her head and she begins trying to manipulate the Reverend too, taking his lantern and eventually touching his arm which sets in motion a game that she is too naive to play with a grown man. Laura witnesses, at first trying to play too but very soon trying to stop Sarah, knowing that this has gone too far. She can only look on in horror as the Reverend pulls Sarah in and kisses her - before getting up and running away, in spite of her fear being alone deep in the woods.
She leads Amy and the group up through the woods, her desperation becoming clearer as she realises what she has done by going along with Sarah's story and by starting the whole night in the first place.
Finally she comes across Mary, who demands that Laura look at her and acknowledge both what she has done and also that Laura was the only one brave enough to give them any sense of self or freedom.
They confront each other and eventually reconcile. Laura tells Mary to run, get out of town - but it's too late. The Reverend, along with Sarah and Elizabeth, has found them and Mary turns to meet her fate.
Amy is pulled into the story, taking the place of Laura as she said goodbye to Mary. Mary is taken away by the others, and the story freezes.
Laura asks Amy 'did you blink? Could you forgive me after what you have seen?' Amy asks if everything will be ok - she understands that to move forward in her life she needs to accept the part of her that she has been hiding and repressing. Laura tells her 'not for us, but we made our choices long ago. It's in your hands' before walking away into the darkness.

The End
I play Laura. Its pretty cool.
The whole show - soundtrack and interspersed dialogue scenes - is recorded and playing from iPhones using an app that syncs everyone perfectly. The cast all have Bluetooth wireless headphones (hidden under bonnets/Puritan hats!) And the audience all have their own set of headphones and a device playing the soundtrack. Because nothing is live it's more as though Laura, the conduit for this story, is beaming it physically or magically directly into the heads of those seeing it. It also means that anyone without the device or the headphones can't hear anything so passers by and dog walkers just see us dancing in silence which is quite funny to think about.

Next in the series, location photos and soundtrack!