Monday, June 30, 2008

summery sketches

The heat in our apartment is so intense that a few nights ago I soak a towel in cold water and lay it, wrung out, on top of me. Tonight I leave our stifling living room, which has the uncanny knack of holding heat long after the day is done with it, and stroll to the nearest park, camera in hand. I come home to a clammy heat, our air conditioner-fan-thing being the type that you fill with water, which it then blows over, or through, or something. Not a real air conditioner. Not the bad-for-the-environment-but-good-for-me type that I secretly want to own. I drink water by the gallon today, go running in the sticky, overcast morning and feel damp, but virtuous.

My inheritance cheque arrives in the mail today as I am reading about tens of thousands of Jews exterminated in the Vilna ghetto; research for the next play. How did I end up lucky enough to have such a loving man in my life, a beautiful country to live in, plenty of material things? I sometimes wonder if there was suffering for me in another life, or if there is great suffering to come in this one? Don't tell me you haven't clung to the good things in your life, wondering if/when they'll be taken away?

Watched 4 episodes of "MacGyver" last night. Waaaay cheesier than I remembered; but on the plus side, Richard Dean Anderson is still a hottie. I watch the episodes with J, though, so I have to control the drooling.

This is a massive flower I found on my walk tonight. Grows on a tree- surely it's too big (and too late) to be a magnolia? Looks too huge and lush to grow here, but it does, all the same.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Avoidance Techniques

I think I've mentioned before how good I am at avoiding composing work by doing anything, anything else I can think of, even-ugh- cleaning. This time we've hit a new low: I've wrangled myself an audition tomorrow. For "Les Miserables"... ME! I can only hope that it doesn't turn out to be the most humiliating thing I've ever done, especially as the company that's producing it is the same one that's currently presenting "The Back Kitchen", so it's not as if I can slink away and avoid them the rest of my life. Not only is the audition tomorrow but the reviews for BK will be out any day, which may or may not call for more sinking (or slinking) feelings. Our director has flown back to NYC, so they'll hardly affect him, if he even reads 'em. The opening night show was- well let's say it was a bit uneven, especially musically. Also nerve-wracking to have to watch it with a largish chunk of the theatre community in attendance. After slouching in the back row through any number of previews, completely unaffected, I was surprised by how nervous I was. Jon, however, is a local celebrity in our neighbourhood, having heard the BK soundtrack blasting out of someone's windows a few days ago, and getting recognized and praised in the local JJ Bean this afternoon. I am still always proud and happy to watch him on stage, especially as this part is so perfect for him.

Anyway, I just have to sing 16 bars of a musical theatre number for the audition tomorrow. No monologues, thank god, and no dancing. I scooted down to the library to find a piece (not being much of a performer I don't have a bunch of stuff ready for auditions, as I should). My choice: "Maybe This Time", from "Cabaret". It's in my vocal range, I can belt it out with confidence, and I've always loved Kander & Ebb, so maybe they'll bring me luck. I can truly say that there's probably no one auditioning for this production who knows musicals less than I do. Although there are exceptions to my rule, I'm not really a fan of traditional "musical theatre". I don't like the screechy/belty character voices, the schmaltzy arrangements, the whole culture of singin'dancin'actin'. I love my theatre with live music (preferably with me performing it), but that's a very different kettle of fish than real musical theatre. However, there are exceptions (Kurt Weill, Kander & Ebb, Sondheim) and I shouldn't dis a genre I know so little about. It would be a total hoot to land a little chorus part for the fall and learn more about musicals, so keep your fingers crossed for me, and pray that all the recent cigarettes won't make me croak like a frog!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

ups and downs

It's a beautiful summer evening, and the taste of pan-fried Rainbow Trout is still in my mouth from dinner- truly one of the easiest, tastiest meals I've had in ages. Inspired by the Back Kitchen's assistant stage manager, who's got dumbbells backstage since she has so little to actually do during our show, I went out and bought a pair of cheery red weights to play with at home, so that my arms will stop resembling fat noodles.

Something left a bad taste in my mouth this morning though, and I wish that I was better at dealing with stuff like this. The company that's producing our show is not best pleased at the high number of hours I've been working on "Back Kitchen" and I felt that I had to defend myself to the powers that be this morning, which made me weepy and angry afterward. Their position: they pay me hourly, because my contract is set up through the Musicians' Union; I'd given them an estimate of the hours I'd be needed during rehearsals and I've exceeded those hours (by a fair bit). My position: I'm a co-creator of this show, my input is just as important as our director's (and he'd be the first to agree with that) and even if we'd negotiated a flat fee I'd have asked for the same amount of money as I'll be getting, give or take a little. I wish I'd been that articulate while I was taking the phone call this morning- I was stammery and apologetic, and afterwards felt upset and angry. J was angry and protective on my part and I felt grateful to him for that, but I need to get better at fighting my own battles. Anyway, the upshot is that I wrote an email to the person who phoned me- a very polite one- clarifying my position and apologizing for not being clearer about how my presence is as necessary as the director's and that my fee should reflect that. I feel better having written it (although I wish I could be as clear in conversation as I am when I write) and I understand that they're on a tight budget, like everyone in this business. I just hate having to apologize for doing my job, and I hopehopehope that our reviews will be great so I don't have to feel defensive anymore.

Anyway, rant over. I'm not at the preview tonight (if they don't want to pay me for being there then I'm not going to see a show I've seen ten million times before, and anyway, the show's going great so the cast doesn't need me) so I'm being a homebody tonight, cleaning up the trout remains and gathering music for the next project.

Talked to my friend Gord about plans for the fall; ie: how to spend my nice windfall from Grandma and did he think spending some of it on school was a good idea. Gord's a composer as well, and his advice was this: "If I were you I'd treat the next 6 months or a year as a sabbatical: spend the time and money to upgrade your skills as a composer and a piano player and you'll benefit for years to come." I think he's got the right idea, and I was glad to get his approval. Here's what I really want to do: study film composition online through Berklee College of Music, take private piano lessons and really improve my playing- about time!- and maybe take a Spanish course at VCC, just for fun. I think the fall could be really interesting...

Oh, and on the "up" side of things, I recently discovered that Superstore carries the first 3 seasons of "McGyver"! I feel a silly impulse buy coming on...

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I don't know what happened yesterday. It felt like a toxic stew of hormones or low blood sugar or something, but I was a leaky vessel oozing out all the patience and humour that I possess. I wasn't angry at anyone specifically, but all I wanted to do was slink home and read under the covers all day, and instead I had to try and pull it together and oversee a long day culminating in a dress rehearsal. I felt poisoned, somehow; itchy and squirmy in my own skin. Do you ever get those days, and what do you blame it on? PMS? Lack of energy-snacks? Fatigue? I can't think what set it off, and that scares me.

Years ago I would have been amazed and thrilled if you'd told me that I'd have a show running at the Arts Club Theatre all summer. And I still am, but sometimes it's possible to lose sight of the joy in all that other stuff: he's making more money than me and why am I still not getting the acclaim that she gets and why don't they hire me? And always self-doubt creeps in: how is it possible that you're qualified to give these people direction and aren't you asking them to do something that you couldn't even do and when did you last pick up your instrument and practice, goddammit?

I don't know what the answers are. All I know is that some people seem to float effortlessly through life, bullshitting when they have to without a care in the world. And even if I had 10 doctorates in music I'd probably still be agonizing. So I'll have to learn to suck it up and keep going. Because it's my job, and people are depending on me to at least pretend I have an idea of what I'm doing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

sweet summer

In the midst of rehearsals and auditions this week, sunny days (finally) and late nights. A few days ago J and I came home from a Back Kitchen rehearsal about 7 o'clock; J had plans to do some video editing, I was going to walk down the Drive to a girlfriend's place and enjoy the evening sun. Instead we made the fatal mistake of lying down on the couch...just for a second. Well- that second felt so good we moved to the bedroom, and woke up 3 hours later at 10:30pm! Then we made the even bigger mistake of getting up, which sent our body clocks into a spiral of destruction. When I tried to get back to sleep at midnight my body would have none of it; it was 3am before I could rest. And I had to get up at 8:15 and go to a busy day at Kites & Puppets- yay.

I'm swingin' between bad habits (smoking- eugh! and eating cheesy bready things) and good moves (running home from work, long walks). Getting into the groove of rehearsals and, after the usual uncertainties, finding useful things to do and say to the cast. As much as I miss performing when I'm just in Music Director mode, there is the pleasure of being able to sit there and listen to their performance and say I helped to make this happen. Which is not as easy when you're in the show, you don't get that outsider perspective. Also much easy to be nitpicky when I just have to listen hard instead of playing and singing as well.

And now, on another note...
I don't get tagged for "memes" yet (because only 2.7 people read this blog) so I've cut-and-pasted this list from a blog that I read because I thought it'd be fun to do. (I've changed the answers, of course.) So here's a little more about me:

In One Word

1. Where is your cell phone? Dunno
2. Your significant other? fantastic
3. Your hair? uncooperative
4. Your skin? combination
5. Your mother? eccentric
6. Your favorite thing? livin'
7. Your dream last night? unmemorable
8. Your favorite drink? tea
9. Your dream/goal? success
10. The room you're in? messy
11. Your ex? hmmm
12. Your fear? failure
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? further
14. Where were you last night? home
15. What you're not? consistant
16. Muffins? moist
17. One of your wish list items? cat
18. Where you grew up? Toronto
19. The last thing you did? rehearsal
20. What are you wearing? stuff
21. Your TV? neglected
22. Your pets? fishies
23. Your computer? addictive
24. Your life? interesting
25. Your mood? pleased
26. Missing someone? girlfriends
27. Your car? his
28. Something you are not wearing? bikini
29. Favorite store? clothing
30. Summer? anytime
31. Where? away
32. Like someone? maaaaybe
33. Your favorite color? teal
34. When is the last time you laughed? today
35. Last time you cried? movie

Saturday, June 14, 2008

music plus.

I'm awash in music this week- researching Yiddish folk songs and other stuff for "Letters From Lithuania", which'll be on late this summer. And also in the thick of rehearsals for "The Back Kitchen", which the Arts Club Theatre is producing and which will be on all July at the Granville Island stage. So funny to hear those songs again, to hear the same lines Trevor wrote back in 2004 coming to life one more time. We had no expectations for that little Fringe Festival show and here we are 4 years later; it lives on and people still find it funny, and touching. Royalty fees aside (and I'm truly grateful for those, believe me) it's also just a wonderful feeling to know that these songs and words we put so much love into will have life again, for one more summer. Probably for the last time, too, unless we get really lucky.

Played a fundraiser last night for someone who hasn't been lucky, a musician I don't know who was involved in a high-speed car crash coming home from a session. In New York. With no medical insurance. Somehow the Reptiles got asked to play and it was a strange and surreal experience playing Christ Church Cathedral (Burcu wearing a t-shirt with the image of a stick man throwing a cross in the garbage) in front of all these sober-looking musicians. Going on stage right after the legendary Jim Byrnes. (So technically, he opened for us!) Burcu finding 4 little kids and dressing them up in shiny finery and persuading them to dance on stage as we played. We were, as always, the motliest crew on the scene, and pretty ragged, musically speaking. I think the show would've done better in a bar or a theatre, where people could relax. As it was, the (fairly small) audience were stiff and silent, the whole affair very subdued. Oh, and every band got 10 minutes, so it was the shortest gig I've ever played.

Ran into an old crush yesterday, the kind who was never in any way a serious prospect, just someone who used to brighten my days when I worked in Kitsilano. Sometimes you see that kind of person again and think: what was I on? But not with this one- we chatted, and I looked at those gorgeous green eyes and thought maybe in some other lifetime, handsome. And I went on my way with my day brightened once again.

I have given up on cleanses and the like, at least for now, but I have given up sweet things this week- surprisingly I haven't had the mind-boggling cravings for sugar that I had while I was attempting to do the Wild Rose cleanse. However, I haven't lost a pound yet either, so that sucks. Seems to me when a girl stops eating sweeties, drinks buckets of water and avoids overtly bready things, she should be rewarded with an instantly svelte figure, don't you agree?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I'm glad my grandpa lives thousands of miles away because...

"Well Alison - I saw your photo today and it looks as if you've put on a lot of weight since I saw you last."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I caved.

Ok, true confessions time. Yesterday I consumed a gigantic bag of Tangy Tropical Skittles while watching "A Room With A View". Nothing but calories and high-fructose corn syrup. And I loved every minute of it. Guess the cleanse is over.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Doing something useful

I was going to start this entry by mentioning smugly that I got up before 10 this morning, but that statement might make most of my readers hate me! I realize that I get to sleep in pathetically late most days of my life, and I do feel very lucky about that, indeed I do. Will it help if I say that the first thing I did this morning after rising was run up a large hill? I'm trying to re-insert the habit of a daily run, which was so easy in Wells where all my days were structured the same way. We'll see how it goes here...
Also trying to insert routine into a life that needs it. Get up, run, work on the computer, practice clarinet, that sort of thing. There's no need to be lazy just because there's no actual money coming in, now is there? I got the get-up-and-run part down today, but mostly I've been surfing the net and looking into educational possibilities for the fall. Since I've been lucky enough to inherit a little windfall from Grandma Jenkins, I've decided that I'm going to put some of it away and spend some of it on schooling. Here are some of the things I want to study: Spanish (VCC has cheap Spanish courses so that one's easy), ear training or Orff (also at VCC), and film scoring. Haven't found any good local courses in that yet, but Berklee College of music in the states has on online course that sounds terrific, so I may go that route. Now, all that sounds fabulous, but of course I'll have to work as well, so we'll see... I just feel so lucky that I have the freedom, and now the funds, to plan this sort of thing.
The cleanse progresses- day4 today- and the worst of the cravings may be over. I actually feel more energetic and less grouchy today; less inclined to wail at the sight of another.carrot.stick as opposed to the giant bag of Skittles I really want to consume. The fact that I'm losing some weight doesn't hurt either, although I know it's mostly water.

Random weird thing I did yesterday: went to the airport! It started as an innocent trip to Richmond to start using my SLR camera again- but it's bloody hard to walk around that part of Richmond- it's pretty much assumed you'll have a car. So anyway, a couple of bus rides later I'm at the Domestic Arrivals terminal, and 10 minutes later I'm strolling into International Departures like a seasoned traveler, not a girl with too much spare time on her hands. And I swear to you, if I'd had any money at all, I would've jumped on a plane right then and there. Because it's easier to take off to another part of the world than make things (work, love, etc) happen at home. Also, my appetite is truly whetted by Istanbul and Mexico- I want to travel, dammit!
Anyway, I stayed on the ground, and here' s my one decent picture from the wilds of Richmond:I love these squawky tricksters: one day I'd like to exhibit a whole series of crow pictures. These guys kept following me as I walked down the alley- I think they wanted to pose!

Oh, and lastly, I rented "27 Dresses" last night because I felt like watching something a bit more, um, feminine than most of the stuff J & I watch together... What has happened to the romantic comedy?! Katherine Heigl was alright, along with wotsisname, James Marsden, but the "writing"? The "plot"? The clever and snappy dialogue? Where was it? Ok, so for me it started when the same team who made the marvelous "4 Weddings & A Funeral" went on to make the abysmal "Love, Actually"- and it's gone downhill from there! And I hear pretty mixed things about the SATC movie, so that will be a wait-to-rent at best. Most of the crap that I see previews for isn't even worth checking out. Anyway, feel free to debate and discuss, all 2.7 readers o' mine. My favorite RC's: "Truly, Madly, Deeply" (despite its terrible title), and "Amelie" (because anything by Jean-Pierre Jeunet is worth watching and because hell, I'd do Audrey Tatou). What are your faves?