Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Trust Your Gut

Have you ever known the outcome of a situation well before it happens or have just known you are, without logical reason, supposed to do one thing instead of the other?  

I received a bit of news last week, and made another decision, contrary to my wants.  If I were making the road map for my life, these directions would not be includedYet I knew bit one before I received the news and I know the other decision is right even though I will not see the consequences of my choice for a couple of months to come.

How do I know?

I decided to trust my gut and not second guess myself.   Even though some could construe these bits as negative, I'm ridiculously excited.

Why? 

I can trust my gut even when it isn't exactly the outcome I'd prefer!

Neither of the things I'm mentioning are in reference to romantical interludes, just to give that lil disclaimer to Nosy McNosersons.  I learned a couple of years ago that when a certain feeling hits my gut in romantic situations (in spite of my heart and my head), the relationship will soon come to a close - even if nothing up to that point would indicate anything but progression.  I appreciate having that little heads up for the ole ticker.

But trusting my gut in every day life situations?  Hot dog!  This is a new experience for me and it is pretty darned cool!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lost Followers

I just lost a follower.

Why is it that I feel broken up with?

*sniff, sniff*

I love you guys!

Busy Dating

Several of my friends have been lamenting to me lately regarding how busy they are.  They think that perhaps young ladies aren't wanting to date them because they are so busy.

I find myself thinking this same thing sometimes - perhaps I am so busy that young men try and give up or don't try at all.  Then I remember the several that have waited for me or taken a chance with that spare two hours I have here or there.   Those are the ones I end up with.

I stand by my belief that if someone is interested in you, they will find a way to spend time with you.  I know I do.

And anyone I know worth two cents will find time once they meet someone worthy of it.  I've seen this over and over again.

Are you too busy to date?  Not for the right person:-)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stranded

Sometimes, the reality of my "aloneness" hits me in a cruel and unusual fashion.  Several times as of late I've felt alone - when I am sick and I have no one to help take care of me or run me to the doctor or pick up a prescription, when I am terribly busy and need to run errands but just do without, when something tickles my funny bone and I get all excited to share only to realize the only one there is my kitty...you get the point.

But I have never felt more alone than I did last night.

Thursday I had an oil change and inspection done to make sure my car was ready for my post-work Friday trip to Boise to visit my life-long friend Scot and his wife Megan, who also happens to be one of my favorite people.  I can be 1,000% myself in the most geeked-out manner around those two and never feel a twinge of guilt.  Love.  I'll post more about the trip, complete with photos, later - it was amazing with an extra zing.  Just what the doctor ordered.

Yesterday I felt a little blue to leave my friends, but life must resume as normal.  I stopped at the Stinker Stores for a soda, hit up a rest stop, you know the drill.  Just north of Brigham City, Utah, I pulled into quite the nice rest stop for one last break before the home stretch.

Just as I pulled away - *POOF*- smoke everywhere. You want to know what was running through my head as I stopped?  "Huh...uhhhhhhmmm...hmmmm....uhhhhh.....weird.  Uhhhhhhhhhh....huh."  And my thoughts continued like that for quite a few minutes.

Almost immediately two rough and tumble bikers with their daughters in tow came to help check the problem.  No genius was required to see the exploded top radiator hose.  I found it before the men did, actually.  It exploded like a hot dog in the microwave and the "smoke" had actually been the steam of the anti-freeze hitting the hot engine.  The kind men walked me through what parts I needed, had me repeat everything to them, and waited until they knew my phone worked.  A little bit later, another kind man came up and told me he'd had the same problem with his old vehicle and gave me some more tips.  I must have been at a rest stop for nice people only.  In spite of these sweet folks, I felt completely and utterly alone.

And then...

I called my dear Blake.  He immediately fetched the correct parts, my darling Shayla, and began the hour and fifteen minute journey to rescue me without a moment of hesitation.

As I waited, I contemplated the love these two people have for me.  I contemplated the kind strangers.  I contemplated that I could have literally been anywhere along the stretch of oblivion between Salt Lake and Boise when that radiator hose exploded.  Anywhere.  The odds that I made it so close to Salt Lake and just happened to be at a well-kept rest stop near a town are nothing short of miraculous in my book.  I contemplated the love of those who continued to call me and text message me to confirm I really was being rescued.  I actually laughed through most of the evening because, hey, what else are you going to do?

Once Blake and Shayla arrived, I was fixed and on the road within ten minutes.  They followed me home and now I just need to find some time to go get a little "peace of mind" inspection.  They are my heroes.  I am a very lucky girl to have such angels in my life.

Sometimes, I feel startlingly alone - my family all live in Ohio or Virginia, I am unmarried, and I am just a darned unique individual.  Then some miracle of a catastrophe happens to show me that I am anything but alone. 

 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hugs

"A hug can turn your day around.  It's like an emotional hemlich.  Someone puts their arms around you and they give you a squeeze and all of your fear and anxiety come shooting out of your mouth like a big wad and you can breathe again."

Thanks, Pushing Daises.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Table Talk

I just ran into the table in the lunch room and apologized to it.  Out loud.  In front of witnesses.

What a day.


I'm the Girl of your Dreams

A couple of weeks ago, within about five days, I had three people tell me about their dreams, starring me.

This is very amusing to me, as I am a vivid dreamer and love when people think it isn't too weird to share with them.  I present their dreams.

1. Last night/this morning I had a dream that I was directing a medieval/Robin Hood-esque film. Except, I was also an extra, so I ended up in the balcony for a really pivitol scene while someone else directed. YOU were the captain of the King's guard, but dressed like Robin Hood, complete with green tunic, tights, and hat. Boy X was the goofy sidekick to the hero, and the hero was a tall, skinny fellow. I remember thinking I should switch Boy X and the other guy's roles, since Boy X looks like the classic hero, but during the dream there was reason not to.  Also? I was watching Golden Girls and The Cosby Show for inspiration.

2. As for the dream, you and I were at college (nondescript college). You were trying to tell me something, but I kept running away. You kept pursuing me, and I could never really avoid you. That went on for a while and I woke up.

3.  There was a huge church dance, including many people I knew, and you were one of them.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chicken on the Bone

I do not like chicken on the bone.  I vehemently detest chicken on the bone.

Seriously, it grosses me out with it's skin and slime and bone and *shudder* - I can't talk about this anymore.


On a more hilarious note, I read this recently, "For each Mt. Vesuvius Burger sold, 50 cents will go to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Chicken® (NCMEC)."  Apparently, it really said "Children," not "chicken."  Silly hungry brains playing tricks on us.

Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer

You know those summer days where nothing in particular happens, yet everything happens to fill your heart with 100% bliss and make you feel just like a kid again?

I had the most perfect summer day this past Saturday.

I woke up bright and early and did my usual cleaning before Gym and I shared a rigorous workout.  I returned home to find my Shayla sitting on my couch patiently waiting to get smoothies and lounge by the pool.  We caught up on her grand European adventures and shared other stories before heading back to my balcony and luring our Blake over.  Soon enough, my Megan arrived for round two in the pool just before Blake left.  She and I chatted in the pool whilst Shayla took a poolside nap.

Once we ladies had had enough sun, we cleaned up and went to dinner, bought some snacks, then lounged around my living room watching 500 Days of Summer.  As the movie ended and we found ourselves chatting yet again, friend Luke's power decided to go out so he and pup Zoey came over too.  Around 2am, we finally decided to call it a night.

I love lazy, friend-filled summer days:-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sandy Arts Guild's Hairspray

My readers have probably long figured out that I don't like to write about a show unless I would recommend the show, with a figurative scoring in my head of more than 6/10.  Either that, or all of you think that I just love every show I see.  For the record, I don't.  I do try to focus more on the positive to develop the sense of community for which community theater stands.

For the few of you out there who have missed the productions of Hairspray at Hale Orem, Scera, Midvale Main Street, Centerpoint Legacy, Riverton, Spanish Fork and most other theaters in the Salt Lake/Provo areas, you are in luck! The latest (and hopefully last for awhile) to run the show actually has a pretty great production to end the Hairspray streak with a bang (pun intended)

What gets tricky, after seeing so many casts (including the original Broadway cast...twice), is not playing the "All-star cast" game.  My friend and I sat there saying, "Ooo, we'd pick this person for this part and this part and this choreographer and this director and this scenery and this stage and and and." After we convinced ourselves to sit back and simply enjoy the production, the night was a lot more smooth.

Upon entering Sandy City Amphitheater (Utah), your ears are filled with tunes of the early 1960s.  No music can make me happier, I tell you what.  I didn't even notice I was singing along as I spread my blanket on the hillside until my evening's company began laughing at me.  A huge projection screen on the stage displayed scenes of the same era.  What an amazing touch to grab your attention and pull you into the show from the moment you arrive.

The cast had some big talent, not just in Carissa Klitgaard's Tracy Turnblad.  Summer O'Very as Penny Pingleton was probably the biggest shock to me.  She played the part as more of a quiet nerdy type than what I typically see, which made her busting out of her shell at the end all the more emphatic.  She out sang the whole lot of 'em on "Without Love."  Big time.  Girl rocks it.  I also cannot get enough of Lisa Grow as Velma Von Tussle.  I saw her in a recent production of Gypsy, which I didn't have time to write about but would have recommended, and may just now be a super fan.  She has acting chops, vocal prowess, especially the big belt note at the end of "Miss Baltimore Crabs," and a rockin' body.  She is Velma Von Tussle.

I also have to give a huge shout out to Chantryce Diehl.  I've seen her in several productions as an ensemble member and she served as Council Member Brenda in this production.  Holy cow!  If every ensemble member could kick it into gear and perform up to the level of Chantryce, the quality of our community theater would be multiplied ten times.  You can not keep your eyes off of this girl during dance numbers.  If you see the show, watch for the girl in the red, not that I even need to point her out.  Chantryce, hats off, Lady!

All in all, I was looking for a little more animated bratiness from Amber and a little more I-can't-control-myself energy from Tracy.  I also judge all men unfairly who try to conquer the part of Edna Turnblad because I can't look past the perfection of a performance from Russ McBride as Edna Turnblad from Midvale Main Street's production last February.

Another huge asset of this production was the costume/makeup/hair combination.  I saw not a single costume ill-fitted, no slipping wigs, great facial features from the makeup, etc.  Everyone looked absolutely stunning and as if the costumes were all handmade and tailored for each cast member. 

The sets appear to have been borrowed from Centerpoint Legacy's production (if it wasn't, it sure looks familiar) and serve the stage perfectly.  Good decision.  I loved the projection of some actual live video of the council members during the Corny Collins show.  This keeps reminding me I need to perform with theaters with more of a budget. 

Summer weather doesn't get much more amazing than the remainder of this week, so might I suggest a literal breath of fresh air and supporting this talented bunch of performers? 

You can catch Hairspray at the Sandy City Amphitheater at 8pm through August 27.  You can buy tickets at the gate for less of a fee or here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Charlie's Aunt

Do you all even like reading what I'm writing about shows?  I sometimes think no one likes these posts until randomly, months later, someone will bring up something or I'll ask what y'all want me to write about and "theater reviews" pops up in the top two.

For my Chris Kennedy's sake, I will share with you my thoughts about my latest foray, Eric Jensen's Charlie's Aunt, in The Off-Broadway Theater in downtown Salt Lake City.  The venue itself is worth the trip, I have to say - the building is quite antiquated and charming.

Straight plays (no music) are not my forte.  That being said, I'd heard many wonderful comments about this show and went into it with high expectations.

If you need a good laugh and enjoy live theater, you will find that your $8 is well spent.  I love that I am able to see live actors on the stage working their tails off to entertain me for the same price or less than a movie.  Added bonus, I get to support my friends up on the stage.

Eric Jensen's adaptation of Charlie's Aunt (read the original plot description here) is an American humor version of a more British humor show.  A good pun always wins me over and there were an abundance of clever lines.  Most of the actors were full of energy, especially the show-stealing lead, Rusty Bringhurst.  I felt a little exhausted just watching him running all over the place.  In fact, my friends and I even hunted him down after the show to tell him how much he impressed us. 

The chemistry between all of the male characters was fantastic and I truly believed each of them was smitten with his respective lady. The addition of Charlie's real aunt in the latter half of the show added to their chummy ensemble.  The two women whom the two young men are courting do a swell job acting with each other and in general, but I had no sense that they actually liked their romantic counterparts.  Maybe all of the times I have looked at someone with longing in my eyes and they have not returned that sentiment has made me a little too sensitive to lack of romantic reciprocation.

The audience continued to laugh full-heartedly through curtain call, although the show, like most theater, is just a bit too long.  I'm not a big laugh-out-loud person and even I erupted more than a dozen times.  So, there you have it, my more-brief-than-normal thoughts and my full endorsement to go see this family friendly show.  Oh, and Chris Kennedy's performance in this show is the best I've seen him do thus far - loves to you, Chris. 

The show runs Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays through August 27 - get tickets here.  


Friday, August 19, 2011

Sleepy Hollow: Audition Dream and Nightmare

I was planning on saving this post until I knew the results of the auditions, however, one slip of the finger and I accidentally published and Google Reader left the fragment posted (grr).  I was immediately contacted by several of you for the remaining details.  So, for all of you inquiring minds - here you go.

When friends of mine go on and on about how they botched an audition, I think to myself, "You are ridiculously talented, there is no way you could botch an audition so badly that they can't see through the mistake and into your talent."  I could not wrap my brain around this concept.

Well, I am here to tell you that I now get it.  Don't worry - there is a positive side to all of this!  Remember how I like to take the good and run with it and how a good story is always worth it? 

Sleepy Hollow is not just any show.  Sleepy Hollow is written by Jim Christian, theater director at Weber State University and winner of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival award.  Guess who was conducting auditions and is directing the show?  Jim Christian.

Centerpoint Legacy Theater is not a venue in which you are used to seeing me perform.  The building is brand spanking new, 516 seats, and about as high-class as "community" theater can get.  Their most recent show, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, has sold out most performances - even at $18 a ticket, a rare occurrence considering Utah cheapskates. I was actually called back for Seven Brides but accepted the lead in All Shook Up and therefore regretfully declined the callback invitation.  Here are some actual photos of the place:



For my initial audition on Saturday August 13, I sang "Once Upon a Dream" from Jekyll and Hyde.  Hey, they requested Wildhorn, so I delivered a song with which I would normally never audition.  Needless to say, I was thrilled (!!!) to receive the e-mail with the great news that they were considering me for three roles (ranging in age 14 years), including the leading lady, Katrina Van Tassel.  I do happen look like Katrina from Tim Burton's crazy version of Sleepy Hollow, don't you think?


I expected the first night of callbacks to be crazy.  Even in the most whittled-down of callbacks I've attended, there are at least a dozen young ladies fighting for the role.  Imagine my surprise and joy when I found myself in the company of five other amazingly talented stars.  How did I get into this exclusive group?  I quickly discovered that I was clearly the only one not classically trained.  Which is super awesome (or not) for a song in consistently high soprano.  In spite of this, high soprano notes have won me several roles.  Typically, the auditors and other singers are in awe of my soaring melodies.

I felt confident in the song.  I got up to sing.   I'd say I sang, except that nothing came out for the first 8 notes.  By nothing, I mean that the notes came out in barely a whisper.  What the?  This has never ever ever happened to me before!  I continued to sing, but instead of trying to fake classical training I have never had, I just belted as much as I could and then flipped to head voice.  But once you start off on the wrong foot, your nerves tend to get the better of you.  I had to hold the music with both hands because I was shaking so badly.  I guess the good news is that I really stood out:-)  Ha.  I have honestly, before now, never felt embarrassed at an audition. I've never even felt as if I messed up.  Heck, I usually 1,000% rock my auditions.  I usually can confidently say I'm one of the best and know a role is coming my way.  But I blew it.  And I knew it. 

I felt I redeemed myself with the acting portion.  I'll even go so far as to say I felt the tops about my acting, giving myself the chills a little bit.  I'll go even further and say that might have been the best cold read I've ever had.  But in a musical, no amount of acting will make up for terrible (or non-existent) singing.

I had a dream (nightmare?) Wednesday night that the director asked me to not even come back for the next night of auditions to which I had already been invited.

All day Thursday, all I could think about was redeeming myself - going back in that room and knocking their socks off!  I walked into that room already feeling confident, at home and amongst friends, as the ladies from the previous night were all there again. We also found ourselves in the company of about 6-8 additional women and about a dozen men.

We first learned a 4-part harmony song and I took the soprano, a little fearful considering my experiences of the previous night.  All the other groups were pretty balanced, but I was quite good at outsinging the other three in mine.  For the record, and for all of you non-singers, singing louder than everyone else when you are supposed to be blending is not the best thing to be doing.  They were all even following my tempo, which is a weird feeling when you realize you are leading.  How is it that one night nothing comes out and the next I'm explosively too loud?  Alas, I felt pretty good about it. 

Next, we learned a six-part harmony.  My heart began to palpitate a little as the music is gorgeous, yet intricately difficult.  Ooo...I'm so excited thinking back on this music!  I can't wait until there is a CD someday for me to listen to.  Really, folks, this is the perfect Halloween musical!  Okay, back to six-part harmony.  I learned all three women's parts to figure out which one to sing.  Our lovely music director, Julie, told us to pick the part of the character we were called back for.  I had been called back for all three, so I picked the one that suited my range the most after learning all of them and getting myself confuzzled.  All in all, when my turn with my group came, I felt pretty okay about it all and rather impressed myself.

The third task of the evening was to learn a solo part in a song that is the telling of ghost stories.  Oh how I loved this part!  Every note fell right into my sweet belting range and they even told us to sing in a brassier tone.  Be still my heart!  This was my chance for redemption!  I was clearly the only lady there who preferred belting over the classical style.  I picked up on the song very quickly and felt I even had character behind it.  I jumped at the opportunity to perform second, not wanting anyone to use the ideas I had for the song.  I was into it, telling this ghost story as if a child around a campfire and the room was enraptured silent with suspense.  Then, I turned the page only to realize I'd turned to the wrong page.  For the love!  I hummed a line while the pianist vamped and then I just jumped back in where I thought she was.  Unfortunately, my gripping story-telling then turned back into methodical singing of notes because I didn't want to get so wrapped up in acting that I made another mistake.  I was given the perfect chance to prove what I've got, to show them they need to cast me and I turned a page wrong - something that is no indication of performing talent at all.  Really, you just have to laugh about it.  By the end, of the dozen or so people, I bet at least half of us made some similar error and we all learned to have a good laugh at our own expenses.  Life happens.

What I really love about working with Jim and Julie is that you can tell they can see past those mistakes.  They heard you hit the note 5 times, just because you didn't hit it once doesn't ruin your chances. 

The conclusion of the evening for me, and the other younger looking ladies, was the acting.  Jim picked a scene where there are eight characters interacting and had us read together, regardless of whether or not the part we were reading was a part we were auditioning for.  That saved a lot of time, as we only had to run the scene three times.  I loved this portion of the audition.  Really, he just needed to see if people can act and become another character.  My favorite was a woman who had to be late 40s or early 50s reading for the part of a 15-year old.  I also got to read as the 15-year old, perhaps because I jumped up and exuberantly offered myself up for that part, but I can do 15 and boy did I ever.  I felt like my character was Jim Carrey amongst a group of Shakespearean actors.  There is no question left if I can act in an animated way, I'll tell you that. 

When all is said and done, I have come to the conclusion there is really only one part I may still be being considered for - a 19-year old bubbly flirt who sings in a brassy belt the whole show - umm...hello I am perfect for this.  But there were four other adorable women who would be brilliant in the part, and only two of them are going to get cast.  And that's if there is no one being considered that wasn't able to make the callback.

If this were based on acting alone, I'd have a part nailed.  But my singing.  Oh my singing.  This is very ironic to me considering that my singing is usually my strongest suit.  I have no idea what happened.

I hope to be involved in the production in some way.  I honestly have no idea what my odds are and writing about an audition before I know about the results is a never-before-been-done thing for me to do.  Supposing the director googles me for some reason and finds this?  I don't want to shoot myself in the foot!

The thing is, I am so very proud to have been part of this callback process.  Every single person at that callback had talent oozing from every pore.  I'd accept any role to be a part of this show.  Even a horse - apparently the Headless horseman's horse does flips (according to the youtube video) - I can do that!  Pick me, pick me!

After spending 5-6 hours with the pro team, I would be forever grateful to be part of this production with them.  I am already, in-the-now grateful for them dedicating that much time to me.  I, honestly, am not expecting to not be cast, but I am not expecting to be cast.  If I don't get to be a part of this show in some capacity, I know there are other plans in store for me.  If I do, I am going to have the time of my life with this one.  The music is so hopeful and suspenseful and touching and I am definitely going to see this show no matter what happens.  Have I mentioned how everyone there blew me away with their talent?  Oh I have?  Well, again, they blew me away and I am beyond honored to have been a part of such an unbelievably amazing audition group.  Best wishes to everyone!

To top it all off, I had a dream last night that they narrowed the part I am in the running for down to six girls and the musical director suggested they eliminate another girl and myself, while the director disagreed and wanted different people eliminated.  Oy.  I'll sleep better now that auditions are over.

In short, this is the best and the worst audition I have ever had.  I know I will end up where I am supposed to be (but I've still got my fingers crossed!).

On to the next adventure!

Wasp!

An unknown ferocious-looking flying insect invaded my peaceful balcony whilst I basked in the glow of the sun and enjoyed some light reading on Sunday morning.

The creature was winged and looked like it might sting, yet it was not a bee or a traditional looking wasp/hornet, but I'd like to side with wasp.  Anyway...Stinger kept flying under my bench and I would watch it bring a stick, fly away, bring back a stick, fly away, etc.  All the while, I hoped I didn't soon feel a stinging in my bum.  I looked under me and couldn't figure out what it was doing with the sticks.  Then I found two tiny holes in each side of my bench and realized that both holes on one side were stuffed with sticks.

I waited for the little stowaway to leave and covered the holes with some tape.  I then watched Stinger fly repeatedly into the tape.  I needed a weapon more fierce than this creature's creepiness and stinger.  Broom!  Swing!  Mission accomplished. Here is where you imagine the hilarious site of me standing guard with a postitioned-ready-to-swing broom, lurking behind Stinger, calculating the precise moment of attack.

When I came home from church, I looked to make sure the tape was still there.  Yep, and so was an as-of-yet unseen creature on the inside trying to get out.  Eew.

Taped holes and the guard cat on the lookout

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Elizabeth Smart

This past Sunday I had a most incredible experience in participating in a meeting with Elizabeth Smart.  Yes, the young woman who was abducted by Brian David Mitchell for nine months. 

In the media, you see her as the composed, strong, confident woman she is.  But you know what?  She is also fun, sassy, and witty.  She has to present herself to the media in the most stoic of fashions because everything she says and does is dissected for analysis.  No matter the setting, however, you can't look at her and not realize her keen sense of fashion and intelligence.

She shared her story and many thoughts with us throughout the evening.  One thing I appreciate about her is how matter-of-fact she presents the issues of abuse and abduction.  She does not shy away from this or act embarrassed like so many do.  She shows us that we can talk about these things, we can have a support system, we can continue to live life the way we have always wanted.  In fact, she gave the statistic that 1 in 4 women will be sexually abused in their lifetimes and she knew that many of the people in the room were going through difficult times right now.

My skin was covered with goosebumps throughout most of the night as my soul filled with love for those I can help and love from my Heavenly Father.  After listening to Elizabeth, I do not know how anyone can not believe in God, can not believe that we have protection from a divine source. 

Of all the thoughts she shared, of which I wish I had a recording, and I feel appropriate presenting to a public audience, the following stuck out to me:
  • When you lift yourself, you lift others with you.
  • It would be rude of me to not share my story because it can help so many others.
  • Those times were the closest I have ever been with my Heavenly Father. 
  • I have too many wonderful things in life to devote my thoughts or time to what happened.
  • The morning after Elizabeth returned home, her mother came into her bedroom and shared with her, "This man is evil beyond what words can describe.  He has taken nine months of your life, do not let him take another moment."
  • You cannot talk about this story if you remove religion.  Without religion, there is no story.
  • Had this not happened in my life, no one would care what I had to say.  I would not be able to talk about abuse and abduction and make a difference.  I am able to help so many others because I went through this.

In the LDS church, we teach that one of our main purposes here on this earth is our free agency.  God's Plan of Happiness is based around the atonement and the agency therein.  Elizabeth said that, throughout her entire captivity, she knew that what her captor (she referred to him as "my captor") was trying to brain wash her with lies because everything he was saying took away our agency in this life and she knew that was not God's plan. 

When she said she felt closer to God during this trial than she has at any other time, I thought about how God will not give us a trial we are not strong enough to endure.  I can't help but feel like her trial was so severe of a test that our Heavenly Father was right there by her side helping her to endure throughout those nine months.  There is no question in my mind about how true her statement rings. 

On a lighter note, one of the group asked her how dating was.  Her response?  "Just like everyone else - messy."  

If you ever have an opportunity to share an evening in the company of Elizabeth Smart, you would be a fool to not.  She is a woman of  indescribable measure and will change more lives than she will ever know.




Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Christian Mingle

During my time with Gym yesteryday, something happened that made my jaw literally drop.  And stay that way for thirty seconds.

What?

This commercial:



Um.  Wow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Looking for Offense: The Help

Recently, I watched the movie, The Help (based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett), with SRBraddy (an often time muse and performer/blogger-friend).

He wrote about our mutual confusion regarding if we should be offended by the steroetypes or embrace that these characterizations are actualities, not prejudices.

But you know what? 

I can't stand it when people get upset and take offense about stereotypes when they are actually neutral fact.

I had a participant in one of my events call in upset because we were cruel and insensitive. Wanna know what bugged her? That the presentation mentioned people from the south often talk a little bit slower with their southern drawls. I hate to sound insensitive, but...really?!  Most people from the south have a southern drawl, how is that meant to be mean in any way? 

I don't get mad and yell about insensitivity and discrimination when someone says, "Short people can't reach the top shelf." These are just facts. People are different. Too many people look for insult. Have you been to the south? I've been many times. I've had many southern roommates. Half of my family lives in the south. And if you try to pretend that most people there don't have a drawl or a deep and abiding love for fried chicken, well, you'd be crazy. It's just fact.

One point SRBraddy and I did view entirely differently was the scene where the maid, Minny, *spoiler alert* busts down a door to find Celia, her employer, crying on the floor of the bathroom covered in blood.  He viewed this strong-willed, door-busting as a stereotypical thing for this maid to do and began to laugh until he realized what was going on.  I don't remember anyone in the theater laughing, but maybe I was too into the movie because I knew where the storyline was headed.  A woman, who is pregnant, crying in the bathroom and refusing to let anyone in? Yeah...can't be good news. I actually felt that scene was very indicative of a character change for this maid. She hated her work and her employers and, although defiant, typically did as she was told.  Although, each time she strayed from that, she was fired. This time, she defied that because she actually cared about this woman - so much so that she was willing to damage the house and disobey her orders, risking her job to make sure that Celia was okay. And then she stayed there with her. I thought this character development was a huge defiance of stereotype, not a typification of one.

Interpretation of characters and movies are like insults though - you find whatever you want to find if you are looking hard enough:-)

Despite the cliche's and all that - you have to see this movie! The characters are a little intentionally emotionally manipulative, like a spoon-fed, 5-course meal of "here is what you are supposed to feel," but you must see this movie.

And quit looking to be offended because, I repeat, you will always find what you are looking for.  Perhaps look to give people the benefit of the doubt more often.  I could almost guarantee that nine times out of ten they did not mean it the way you think they did. 

Just remember: You is kind, you is smart, you is important.

The end.

I Rock

Last Saturday night I returned home around 1:30am.  Upon rounding the corner to my condo, I stopped dead in my tracks.  I looked at my company, back to the scene before me, back to my company.
"Was that there when you got here?"

Nope.

Spread out along the balcony in a perfectly straight line, were rocks.  Was this a sign?  How did rocks get along the balcony?  Are aliens trying to visit and communicate with me?  I have some mischievous friends (to whom I have given keys) to say the least and my mind went straight to them.

"You have to come in and make sure my condo is okay."

We enter. 

Nothing.

"Huh.  And here I thought my friends were trying to tell me I rock."

Sunday afternoon when I arrived home from church, there were the rocks.  Only changed in formation.

Weird.  Aliens?


Monday, August 15, 2011

The Importance of Comma's

And the final blog today on my trifecta of texting oopsies last week...

I sent this text, "Thank you for the company!  We shall have to play more soon!"

The response, "No thank you!"

I've never had someone decline my offer much like they'd decline a piece of gum.  Such a polite decline though.  I suspected that wasn't intended, but couldn't help but playfully respond, "You know, if you read my text and then yours, it could be misconstrued very negatively.  Comical."

 "Haha.  I missed a comma."


Texting Oops

Another great conversation via text last week:

"Did you know Cleveland OH is the second highest area for the most snowfall in the US?"

"Nope. So I got a new phone and didn't transfer my contacts over...care to share to whom I am texting?"

"Who is the dancer you have been talking with the last few days?  Can't believe you deleted my number:-)"

"JH!  I didn't delete ANYONE:-)  I simply didn't transfer over my contacts so I only have the numbers of those who contact me.  Selfish, yet effective."

"Wow...how many guys are you dating now Riss?  You must be dancing with different guys every night!  I wonder how effective your system really is now:-)"

"Uh oh...ummm...dancing...BALLROOM!  TH!"

"That is a much better guess."

Oops.

Swype

Y'all are probably in for a lot more posts regarding ridiculous auto-predict texts I send out.  This swype technology is getting the better of me...and making me laugh quite a bit.

Last week?

Dallas: "Didn't mean to wake you.  Sweet dreams!"

Me: I want asleep.it will take awhile.  Sweet drama rip uppity to.  Okay that auto predict was do funny I am leaving it."

Dallas: "I wasn't asleep.  It will take awhile.  Sweet dreams to you too.  Okay, that auto-predict was too funny.  I am leaving it.  Is that what you meant?"

And then I proceeded to chuckle myself to sleep.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Into The Woods with Taylorsville Arts

The show is over.  Do I still write?

Sure, why not!

I had a unique opportunity with this show.  My darling, Megan Smyth, played the enchanting Cinderella and asked me if I would come take some short video clips for her to check out her performance.   On top of this, most of my team from Nunsense was involved in the show.  Wendy Dahl-Smedshammer (Sister Hubert) directed, Michelle Johnson (Choreographer) choreographed, Leah Jacobs (Sister Robert Anne) did hair and make-up, and Sandra Houlihan (Reverend Mother) played the stepmother.   Needless to say, I felt right at home and a bit nostalgic. 

This particular production had four weeks from casting call to opening night.  What's this you say?  Four weeks for a three-hour Sondheim show?  Who was released from the insane asylum?  Yeah, I know.  I couldn't believe it either.

If you are unfamiliar with the story of "Into the Woods," just imagine every fairy-tale character you know coming together for a first act of "Happily Ever After" and a second half of the opposite.. yet not.  The baker and his wife cannot have children and must go into the woods to fetch some magical items for a witch who will in return grant them a child.  They encounter several princes and princesses along the way and so the journey of the show begins.

I have not traditionally been a fan of Sondheim or of this show.  I love the characters in the show, so I've always wanted to be Little Red (although I've been informed I am more of a Cinderella).  I may or may not have thought the show was over at intermission the very first time I saw it.  So long.  I have avoided the show ever since.

I arrived at the Amphitheater for my first viewing of a dress rehearsal two nights before open.  No lights.  No microphones.  Oy.  Half the cast looked confused (working with a live orchestra is amazing, yet challenging), the other half looked like they were trying to reign them in.  I witnessed stops, starts, flubbed lines, overly energetic lines, cows running into brick walls, profanities, set pieces being "constructed" with plastic zip ties, you name it.  This, however, is what dress rehearsals are for.  My fellow actors and I always say we are "getting it all out of our system."

I went again the next night for their final dress rehearsal.  Can I say how exponentially better the show was in one day?  Half the cast had sound and half of the time there were lights.  But really, why am I wasting time writing about the dress rehearsals?   

I saw the actual show on Saturday August 6th and I loved it.  One character in particular was probably entertaining for the wrong reasons, but we laughed our heads off nonetheless.  Again, I don't have my program with me, so I don't really recall the names of the cast members.  I'll share with you those who stood out in my mind.

Cinderella.  Megan may think I'm saying this just because I am one of her besties and love her so, but I'm not!  She glows, glitters, twinkles on stage - lighting up everything around her.  I've been in a show with her, but I couldn't get a feel for her presence while I shared the stage with her when I was being a totally self-absorbed character.  She has a lovely, sweet soprano voice that floated around just the way you would imagine Cinderella's.  Her character may not have had the best lines, but she had the best glow.  Her character falls a lot on stage and the first time I witnessed this, I honestly thought she had tripped and wanted to go save her.  Towards the end of the show, she is a comfort and guide to Little Red, singing, "No one is Alone," and she simply exuded the love of a mother.

Little Red.  Andrea Fife is a friend of a friend, so I've seen her in a couple of shows before (Oklahoma, Joseph....) as a more ensemble member.  I'm here to say, she is better than ensemble.  I've dreamed for 14 years of playing this part, so I was initially going nuts as I'd watch her character do certain things and I thought, "But I would have done it this way!  More animation!"  But you know what?  She nailed it.  Her interpretation of Little Red as a matter-of-fact, who-cares, this-is-what-I-want, semi-brat was spot-on.  My theater degree friend called her brilliant.  He does not lightly throw out praise like this.  At least he's never given me any praise at all, so...yeah.  She had a pitch-perfect voice, rhythm, and the brattiest skip.

Cinderella's Prince.  He was tall and lanky, yet somehow his smile outshone his height and his Disney-esque sappy, cornball prince does charm me.  Charisma, that's the word.  He draws you to him.  And makes you laugh.

Lastly for the stand-out's, Jamie Taylor as the Witch.  She has remarkable singing ability, yet her voice had enough grit to it to pull off being wicked.  Her character has odd lines and mannerisms and Jamie did not hold back with anything she portrayed.  And talk about projection - she's got it.  Wow.

Lighting and sound?  I learned that shows are a lot better with them than without them.  Outside theater is rough and pulling it off at all is a challenge.  Pulling it off well?  A feat, good thing this cast knows how to conquer giant feet (Ha - get it?  You do if you saw the show).  Again, I will say I love a live orchestra.  I know this adds countless hours of work and stress for the city and the cast, yet it is entirely beneficial to the show and makes the quality that much better.

The set was minimal, yet endearing.  We all agreed that less is more in this outdoor amphitheater with greenery abounding everywhere around the stage, especially above.

My favorite parts?  "You are Not Alone" and the closing number.  All of these characters, most who can be construed as selfish, come together in the end.  Dead or alive.  Hey, I never said it was an entirely happy ending.  Some of the lyrics that touch the audience: "People make mistakes. People make mistakes.  Fathers, Mothers, People make mistakes, Holding their own, Thinking they're alone....  Maybe we forgot:  They are not alone. No one is alone."  Of course, the last lyrics of the night are "Happily Ever After."

If you didn't see it, I'm sorry you missed it.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Goes to Hale

Once upon a time I had a deep love for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.   If you don't know the plot, go read the Bible.  My mother even took me out of school one day to surprise me with seeing the touring production.  I have performed many of these songs and know each one by heart.  Something happened, what I am not sure.  Maybe it's like how your favorite foods change, or your taste in clothing, but I grew to detest this show.

Until I saw it last week at Hale Centre Theatre in West Valley City, Utah (HCT).

Children are plucked from the audience to listen to the narrator sing her first song.  The thing I loved about her (T, TH, S cast - I can't find my program or the cast list online to name names), more than any other narrator I've seen, is that she is quite engaging in the story and with the audience.  She is, in essence narrating the story for us.  Most narrators I've seen stand there and look pretty whilst singing - most of the time you don't even know where on stage they are.  I cannot rave about this performer enough.  I loved everything about her - her look, her angelic singing, her presence.  She was the caretaker over all of these performers and held the show in the palm of her hand. I'd have seen it just for her!

Our Joseph, well,  his vocal skills are flawless and I actually preferred his high tenor, which is a rarity.

The rest of the performers come on stage and at first I squinted a little at the velveeta, but they were so relentless in their enthusiasm, they had me entirely won over by the end of "One More Angel in Heaven."  I am now convinced that perhaps being in the ensemble of this show would be better than having the leading role in another.  Don't hold me to that though - I still want parts!  I've never auditioned for a Hale show - perhaps I should start doing that...I would love to be a part of a production like this.

Because I have seen over eighty professional productions in NYC, I'm not as prone to clapping when an elaborate set piece comes out.  Seems I forget how much work goes into those and that we should clap for the pro team as well as the performers.  Naturally as the stage went spinning and twirling and an electronic goat made his debut, the audience exploded.  Likewise, there is a life-size camel that set the entire place abuzz.  Kudos.

All the excuses I usually make for community theater (sound crackling, weird costumes, bad lighting, etc.)?  I have to make none of those for Joseph.  Many have argued that this venue isn't exactly "community" theater.  Regardless.  Everything went off flawlessly.  Time for my shout-out to the comrades I have in the show - Jonathan Tate, Janine Crockett, and Galen Chatterton (unfortunately I didn't get to see Janine or Galen in the cast I saw)!

Lastly, I want to share with you my favorite part of the show.  I have never felt touched in this portion of the show, which is perhaps why it struck my heart.  Towards the end, Joseph is reunited with his father.  Typically you see the father with a grin on his face welcome Joseph into his wide-spread arms.  You never get the impression that the father has been apart from his most beloved son, whom he thought was dead, for many long years.  I cannot describe to you the emotion on the Hale stage when Jacob realized he was standing before his son and began sobbing as he collapsed into Joseph's arms.  Oh goodness, I'm getting teary-eyed again.

You can still catch the show until September 24.  Go, Go, Go here for more information.

Eye Spy

For almost 31 years now I have been working very hard towards a goal.

I have been smiling every single day, long and hard.

I have been laughing, loving, shedding a few tears here and there, and perhaps spending a few too many hours basking in the glow of the sun whilst enjoying all the world has to offer.

Now, finally, my goal has come to fruition.

Look what I found!  Life requires a lot of smiles for these happy little lines!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Marrying the Whole Country is Presidential

I listen almost exclusively to KSL news radio.  I know, I know - I am soooo boring.  But when I turn the dial and hear some fake singing Kesha crap, well, I'm not inclined to turn back. 

With all of the political hullabaloo going on regarding the presidential candidates, I find myself wondering:

How does one man make an entire country happy?  Heck, one man has to work his tail off to make one woman happy in a marriage...and half of those end in divorce.  Being president is like trying to woo and marry an entire country.  There is no way! 

Also, in a marriage, don't you continue to progress and learn about each other and then change your view points based on that growth?  If your spouse has a good argument for a certain point, you may change your mind.  So what is the big deal about a candidate changing his/her mind as new information comes to light?   Like the rest of us have never changed our minds before?   Isn't "what is best for the country" or "the marriage" in constant flux?   Last I checked, 80-year old's were not worried about changing their children's diapers and the country is no longer worried about the nazi regime.

Let's face the cold, hard facts here - the presidential candidates themselves are not making decisions alone - there is a legion of opinion and intelligence (or lack thereof) behind everything that happens.  Why are so many of us putting the blame on one individual?

I'm not a very political person and am probably a bit too detached, but I dare say there are way too many ridiculously stubborn people out there who are looking for any material they can find worthy of picking a fight.  We all need to recognize that what may be best for me, may not be best for the relationship of the whole country.

To the next President, I say, "Good luck with the marriage.  Have fun with the divorce in 4-8 years."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Holla Back Girl

Ladies, you've all been there.

Men, I hope you haven't all been there.

Yesterday, I am in my car, in my gym clothes, sporting a ponytail and blinged-out pink sunglasses.  This truck full of at least five men begins to hoot and holler at me...slowing their car so they are alongside mine.  I look to the car in front of me - woman.  I look to the car behind me - woman.  Why must they pick me? 

I get to the stoplight, they stop one car length in front of me and I stay put.  I see them all going nuts turning around wondering why I have not pulled forward.  The light turns green, I zoom on by.  As I do, even though I had rolled up my windows in protest, they all begin the verbal onslaught again, only this time hanging out the window and flailing wildly.

Seriously?  Do men really think this works?  What did they expect me to do - roll down my window and scream my number at them while they take a picture?  I also wonder about their taste if they are going after the gymified lil girl in the '93 Honda as opposed to the classy ladies in functioning cars surrounding me.  At least they gave me a good laugh...they actually probably saw me laughing...hard.

My friend recommended this gem from Jerry Seinfeld as an explanation:  
It's the only thing we know for sure, it really is: we want women. How do we get them? Oh, we don't know 'bout that, we don't know. The next step after that we have no idea. This is why you see men honking car-horns, yelling from construction sites. These are the best ideas we've had so far.. The car-horn-honk, is that a beauty? Have you seen men doing this? What is this? The man is in the car, the woman walks by the front of the car, he honks. This man is out of ideas. I mean what is he expecting? For the woman to stop and say  "Hey you honked at me .. Ahhhh that's so sweet .. I never knew you felt this way!"? 


What are your holla back stories?


Dancer

Look!  These photos make me look like a real dancer!

On tip toe

Splits in the air

Jump!  Check out that toe point and those calf muscles
Whoops - wrong kind of dancer...


Monday, August 8, 2011

Words With Friends

Let me reiterate an IM conversation I had with a co-worker this morning:

"I got Words with Friends on my phone this weekend.  Dangerous." 

"The game?  Or actual friends are mad at you and they want to have 'words with you'?"

Ha. Always best to start out Monday morning with a laugh.

By the way - my username is LarissaVillers.  Creative, I know.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Idina Menzel

Idina Menzel.

Need I say more?

When Broadway stars perform concerts, you always know they are going to be phenomenal because they were born to perform live.  Idina began her Park City - Deer Valley concert with, "Life of the Party" from "Wild Party" and I immediately forgot any inconvenience I'd been through to get to my blanketed spot on the hillside overlooking the valley and mountains surrounding me.

For all of the superfans, she performed her hits from Glee and Wicked.  She cracked me up when she explained she couldn't understand the significance of "Poker Face" in her Glee plot line of reuniting with her daughter - "Poker, chickens, random baked goods, a Tony-award winning actress who can't make sense of it, but okay." What I loved most, however, were the stories she shared with us about her family.  She shared how her husband (Taye Diggs. Roar.) and she sing to their little boy every night with their own songs.  Then she shared with us her song, backed up with the entire symphony.  Oh that every baby could hear the song of his mother's heart backed up with professional musicians.

Music has a way of touching your soul that no other means can.  For her encore, she sang, "Tomorrow," from the musical "Annie."  I know what you are thinking.  What? Yeah.  The most beautiful version of the song I have ever heard.  Most of the audience had tears streaming down their faces and I don't think I'd be too far off in saying they took away with them a new vigor for life.  I saw dreams coming true in the eyes of those around me.

Thank you, Idina. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

I Like Pizza

The first Friday of every month is free pizza Friday at work.

I like pizza.

And here is a secret glimpse into the way my mind works.  Since Multiplicity first debuted in 1996, I cannot hear those words without thinking about this (just the first twenty seconds):



Now, if you ever hear me say, "I like pizza," in a very strange voice, you know the reference.  You're welcome. 

I Could be Vengeful

This morning I was thinking about all of the tidbits people have told me over the years.

I'm not just talking tidbits from dear friends.

Something about me must scream, "TRUST ME!" because I have had people tell me things that a stranger probably should not be told upon a first meeting. 

I thought about how I could be manipulative - use this thing about me to get people to tell me things.  And then I have ammunition.  I could do anything I wanted with this information.  I could share their secrets.  I have enough information that could ruin some people.

But would I ever?  NO.

The thought alone makes me feel darkness and evil.

I feel something akin to what I feel when I look at the blue summer skies while watching the cotton clouds roll by when I think of the love I have for all of these people who, for no reason, have loved me enough to trust me.  When I think of my desire to know them and help their lives be better in some small way even if that is just one of my stupid puns. 

I could be vengeful.  But then that wouldn't be me, would it? 

It has been far too long since I laid in the summer grass with a loved one and discussed the shapes we see in the clouds.  Anyone wanna?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Folding Underwhat?

When my parents came to visit, I continued to have to work every day and also perform every night. 

My mother, sweetheart that she is, decided to surprise me and finish my laundry.  I hang up all my clothes, but Mom didn't know where they go, so she folded to help with all the sorting. 

I opened the sliding door into the laundry area to see the most hilarious sight: folded underwear. 

Who does that? 

I couldn't help but laugh...then feel kinda weird that my mom had been handling my unders.

Relaxing by the Pool

For the first time this weekend, I went to my pool all by myself.  And I mean the first time ever of the three years I have lived there.

I had the place to myself for most of the time.  I relaxed, listened to the breeze, soaked in the sun's succulent rays, and read my magazine occasionally.  I even threw caution to the wind and braved the waters of the pool.

And the next day I gave a talk in church.  I would consider a talk where you quote an entire Beatles song, mention dope and electric gee-tars, and confess about your days on a competitive creative writing team a success, wouldn't you?

Yep, really my pool.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Huh

So, magically my blog isn't showing ten posts per page as normal.  I've edited the settings at least a dozen times and gone back to the home page...nope...still just showing anything posted since yesterday.

I think the McDonald's people found my Big Mac hater post and secretly hijacked my account. 

Anyhoo...if y'all are missing the older posts until then, just click "view older posts."  I'm stupefied.

Crazy Cat Lady

For your viewing enjoyment, I submit to the result of some extensive psychological research - I just may be a crazy cat lady.

1. Tie a stick to her tail and watch her chase it in circles
2. Tie a feather boa to her and watch her freak
3. Cleaning upside-down
4. Back-flip!
5. When Styrofoam attacks
video
video
video
video
video

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Droid 3

Remember how I blogged lovingly about my trusty old phone not even two months ago?

As luck would have it, the poor fella fell out of my purse after I dropped my mother off at the airport and my usual fix-it technique of throwing it back down didn't work.  The ole fella is officially busted.  I can still make calls and send texts letter-by-letter, but the inside screen won't power on, disabling most of the phone's features or making them extremely inconvenient.

So, today, entering my life is Droid 3.  I don't mean to move on from my old relationship so fast, but I have the feeling this will very quickly be love.  Especially once the custom cover I put together arrives.