Wednesday, November 30, 2005

He who shall not be named

We all went to see Harry Potter. You should see it in the theatre unless you have a huge TV.

Allow me to summarize:
  1. Creepy opening
  2. Traveling through space
  3. New, more attractive schoolgirls, and a peeping ghost girl
  4. Dragons
  5. Contests that Harry wins (shocking, I know)
  6. Magic Dance Party
  7. Whatshisname comes back (played well by Ralph Feinnes)
  8. Oodles of cool effects
If you haven't read the books, you might want to get caught up, they don't waste any time on character exposition or back story.

Monday, November 28, 2005

In which picturesque advice was offered

I kinda almost didn't actually do any Dickens Fair stuff today, which felt weird indeed. OK, I did make some calling cards. I mostly just went to work, did some grocery shopping, ate dinner, and read email, and OK, some most of the email was about Fair.

Apparently the Naughty French Postcards show has received its first complaint (via email, how Dickensian). (We must be doing something right!!) There will be some slight changes to make sure that the Dickens Fair brand is maintained in top form. The picture and the dialog will change a little in one vignette, but the sentiment will remain.

One of the istsy bitsy details details about Fair is that people are generally willing to share a sip of what they have in their flask. You get to taste what people like to sip. This weekend I was introduced (by a rather attractive young lady who I recognize but do not know the name of) to something called Stroh 80 that was really quite nice. Wicked strong, but very nice. Whatever your name is, thanks!

That's another thing about Fair, you hardly know anyone's name, but you are all friends indeed. The hard part is that everyone has at least two names, their "Fair Name" and their real name. Lots of people have several characters, which makes it even harder.

People constantly refer to others by these names interchangeably. Then to add to this, people have Faire (renfair) names too to go with the characters there... and you get lots of, "I didn't recognize you in your Dickens Fair costume until you started to talk then I realized you are also [insert renfair character here] at Faire! Isn't that funny..." Oy, my head is starting to spin.

See you at Fair!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

One down, three to go

This weekend was so incredibly full of fair stuff it is hard to know where to start...

Let's start at the bottom so to speak. Here are some of our fairmates cutting up backstage. Yes, that is a thong on Nora's head. (Yes it was brand new right out of the little bag it came in.)

Peter thought it looked inviting... or something like that. These bookish Dickens-reading types really are a pretty staid bunch.

Then Ryan decided that it wasn't enough to appear in just the union suit, so he grabbed a Dark Garden corset model to doll up his outfit backstage at the French Postcards show... Nice package Ryan. Get a room.

The postcards show is clearing the streets as people abandon all other activities to see the, um... boobs. The Mad Sal's show was experiencing "loss of crowd" on Saturday much to their dismay.

Backstage you get a lot of this "relaxing" sort of behavior. Here is Malaia keeping the floor warm.

On a much more eruidite note there was our darling daughter doing a stint in the Dark Garden window display. By all accounts she was a very good model.

No pictures of it (I left the camera backstage!) we saw a proposal of marriage (for real) out on the dance floor right after the Congress of Vienna waltz. It was touching, then we all waltzed just to celebrate.

Scenes are getting better, the audiences are getting entertained (we have a new "block the street" strategy for enticing people to stop long enough to watch scenes) and we are all having quite a bit of fun. Come and join us at Fair!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Fairly odd characters

Holy crap I'm tired. The fair is like a very long acting party. At the end of the day after you get notes from your director and then you drive home and it seems like you have been gone for like 12 hours; because you have.

We got take out. That was a great idea.

Scenes went better today, and the postcards show went better because we solved some tech issues like getting on and off stage, and how long to leave the lights on. There were many more patrons, and we had the wood-shaving snow on the "streets" today. It isn't really fair until there is wood-shaving snow.

I got lots of compliments on the coat today. See snorky picture at left of me in a stylin henly and jeans with my new coat. Seriously, people thought it was really cool. I was so jazzed. There are some details to fix (like that stinkin top button) but it really wowed all the costume geeks.

Grace, you are welcome to get you and Scott on a plane and get out here to enjoy fair. I'll even buy you a beer (of course you would have to split it with Scott).


Coat finished. Not as stunning as professionally tailored but I think it will be effective. Camera is at Mother in Law's house. (dang) Come see the coat at fair in a few hours. :-)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Whoa that's a mighty nice Fair you got there kids

Fair opened right on schedule.

No I didn't finish my flippin coat, though I did stay up till way too friggin late trying. Tonight I will triumph! There will be pictures!

Fair was way fun. We had some pretty good success with the acting in the streets, and the postcards show was very well received. Suffice to say that the theatre was packed, and many hoots and hollers were heard when the actual boobs were revealed. It was by all accounts, hootastic. Of course the big hit was Carl (older and more portly than all the other men in the cast) playing the "old gentleman with peculiar tastes" who bares his bum (well the side of it anyway) to get threatened by very cute Jessica-in-the-maid-costume and a rug beater. The miracle was that all of the scenes happened right on cue, even though we had only really rehearsed it three times. I predict packed houses for the run of fair.

All of the other stuff was so nice too. The singing by the Coventry Carolers (I was way too tired to sing with them today) in the breezeway stage was oh so very nice. Sharon and I had the opportunity to go dancing a couple of waltzes, and do some nice strolling and shopping. Our friends Lisa, Dory and Mary were there (hi guys!) and we had fun hanging out with them too. Mary and I even tried a polka at Fezziwigs, but we got embarrassed off the dance floor by people who dance way better than we did.

Oh yeah, Thanksgiving was really very nice except for the impromptu cocktails made with Martinellis sparkling apple cider. I do not recommend this product as a mixer under any circumstances.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

33 hours to go

Well, the ole clock is ticking and I have been making some progress on the ole you know what. Tonight I padded the shoulders, made and put in the lining for the bodice, made two pockets (not in the original design) and attached the lining to the modified cuffs. Now the only thing left is to make the skirt with lining, and put two slash pockets in that (that looks hard) then fitting the skirt to the bodice. Then we add a handful of buttons (only three of them need buttonholes).

I do need to sleep a couple of times and have a big holiday meal, oh and there is a hem to fix on the trousers... and a few other minor things to attend to.

But it looks like it may be possible to wear the coat this weekend, if not Friday...

Sorry, no pictures since it looks almost unchanged except that it is.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Never on Sunday

Well we had even more rehearsal today with the beginning marked by a very long and, um... interesting all-cast meeting. Suffice to say that everyone involved in the Fair are now ready to meet the public. The unseasonably warm weather makes for some fairly warm days in a lot of wool costumes. It seems to cause giddiness.

Speaking of wool, did I mention I was making a coat? I spent an hour tonight making two seams, the ones that attach the sleeves to the body of the coat. You think casting off (or whatever you call it) is hard; try "easing in the fullness" sometime. (Get your mind out of the gutter, girls. I'm sewing not, um... Never mind.)

First you start with about way too many pins. Then you baste it together by hand, then you stitch it. Hopefully you get it right.

Then after you get the sleeves on you put on the coat and find out how badly you estimated the length of the sleeves. I still have to pad the shoulders out but I think I have them at least 1-1/2 inches too long.

At least I still have three more nights to sew before opening day. It's possible to get done, but I would avoid betting large sums on it.

Oh yeah, the French Postcards "dress" rehearsal was nice. Final rehearsal is tomorrow night, in which we make an attempt at running the show without shouting instructions to each other.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

More, more, more! How do you like it?

More crapola about the coat. (Shocking, I know.) I sewed and sewed. When I looked up at the clock it was like 3 something AM. But I got a lot done. That's lining getting cut out at about 7 PM.

There are oodles of pieces. If I was knitting there would be one very long piece, but instead there are lots of funny shaped pieces that don't want to lay flat. This was about midnight.

This is an "in joke" morning-after view of the front of the coat. Go easy on me; I recently had surgery.

I thought of cropping my dorky looking long (and graying!) beard out of this shot, but it shows the velvet collar. I grew the beard back for the Brownlow part in Dickens Fair, and that's what the coat is for too. Ahh, what we do for Our Art. After closing weekend it's back to the real me.

Friday, November 18, 2005

In which I cut many many pieces of material

So I got all the pattern pieces laid out. I looked carefully at the drawings in the costume reference book we have and I decided to lose the cuffs on the coat. This allowed me some more fabric, which gave me an idea... The picture in the book shows a coat on an older man to be longer, almost to the knee. So I decided to lengthen the lower part of the coat seven inches to give it that longer look. This took some pattern drafting work to extend things. Then I was a cutting fool and got all of the fabric cut out. Now I need to cut the lining and interfacing sections. I counted pieces, there will be 68. I must be nuts.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Not to be outdone

Some others had some nice shots of their handiwork so I thought I'd post mine. Sorry, not equipped as well so the pics are substantially more mundane.

In which I learn the meaning of "complicated"

Well after finishing up the vest with pleats, ties, and some plaid-matched pockets, making a garment bag, and ironing a shirt collar, I decided to grit my teeth and get started on The Frock Coat. The pattern says "Advanced" which should suit me OK since I have already made all of one garment that looks good.

So I ironed the pattern out and started cutting out the pieces I needed. There are seventeen of them! Most of the parts are lining, interfacing, and cloth, so I think the coat will have well over fifty individual pieces of material before it's done. Then I made some measurements and lengthened the pieces that need to be longer, including drafting in new cutting lines to get the seam geometry right through the extended sections. There were lots of those too. This took the better part of two hours.

I figure cutting out the wool, the lining, and the interfacing will take about a five hour evening. Assembling the coat will take maybe four or five evenings. As Sharon said the pattern assumes you really know what you are doing and only illustrates the really complicated parts.

If I can make this coat before Fair starts I'll be happy and somewhat surprised. Just the little section on how to put in the pocket is about four column inches... I may be opening Fair in the cutaway coat I bought at rehearsal.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Woo Hoo!

Finished the trousers!

Yes my faithful readers, there were many cryptic steps like "Stitch as shown." and sew forth.

But I pressed ahead and now they are fit to be tried. On that is.

Oh, and somebody here said the material was so nice it should be made into unmentionables. We shall not speak of this further.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

and it cuts like buttaah

So I stopped staring at a flat panel display long enough to actually do something with my costume. It was more funner than I thought it would be, except I am only at the easy "cut out the pieces" stage which is easier than all the much harder "put the pieces together and not make it look like crap" stages. When you read the instructions, even the ones in English, it still sounds like you really ought to leave these things to someone who knows what they are doing. The cutting out part is easy in the instructions, the other parts have far more words, some of which are in bold which leads me to believe they are important. No matter, I plan to forge ahead.

The material is a really nice weight and drape.
It is a wool silk blend and should be extremely comfortable.

Wish me luck all you fiber types.

Looks like I'll survive

Well, I'm over the lousy part of the cold after having mostly slept through Monday. Think I'll change my name to Van Winkle, cause that has a nice ring, "Bob Van Winkle". On second thought, never mind. Taking the time off was the right plan, I think I can avoid getting any sicker. (Thanks sweetie for suggesting I stay home.)

I definitely need to Get Started on the costume as time is passing without any progress at all. I think I'll get serious and cut up a couple hundred bucks worth of fabric tonight. First I'll make the trousers since I bought a tail coat over the weekend as a second costume piece/backup plan. I think I'll just have to sedate the dogs so I can concentrate. I probably need an incentive plan too; maybe "First trousers, then martini."

Of course, I will post pictures of my feeble impressive tailoring exploits. Expect to see frowns and confusion over things like which is the "right side".

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Yes Virginia, there will be naughty stuff at fair

First day of Dickens Fair rehearsals today... there was a huge crowd, like two or three hundred people who are participating. Of course, almost everybody recognizes everyone else, except for the new people who got applause just for raising their hands at the morning meeting.

This year they are bringing back Naughty French Postcards! After 25 years! There will be actual sorta naughty stuff on stage (behind a scrim) but don't worry, the actors will be holding poses, not moving so you won't need your heart medicine. So don't say I didn't tell you about it in advance. The show runs every day of fair at 5:30 PM in the Victoria and Albert Theatre inside the fair.

Looks like I might be able to be in the show (yes, clothed) and that my stagehand experience will come in handy for the 25 vignettes in a 45 minute show.

Oh yeah, I'll also be playing Mr. Brownlow from Oliver Twist, AND singing with the Coventry Carolers. The rest of the family will be playing characters and singing as well.

If you want to come to see the later stuff only, the tickets at the door are $10 after 4PM, that's half off!

I can get you discounted all day tickets, just call or write. Do come see us at fair!

PS I put some mushy poems on the family site.

Time for drinkie.

Friday, November 04, 2005


I am coming down with a cold. If the usual pattern holds I'll be down for a day in the near future, followed by a day or two of sounding like Barry White. Then I'll have congestion that will keep my ears in a pressure imbalance state that is really annoying. However, none of this ever affects my sunny personality, despite the testimony of those around me who say I am quite irritable when I am sick. (I secretly think they may be correct.)

What a great way to start the Holiday Season. At least it is coming earlier this year than last, when I got the cold right near Christmas. It makes it hard to sing for the Caroling Party.

I read through the pattern instructions for my frock coat for Dickens. It sounded like assembly instructions for a nuclear power plant, translated from German. Luckily I am not afraid of seemingly impossible tasks. I just have no idea how I'll do it.

By the way, the holidays will hereafter be referred to as NewHallowThanksMas since *the holidays* seem to blend into *one* large event that begins on labor day and ends in a sudden sober awakening on January 2nd, whereupon you say, "What the hell happened to my wallet waist?"

Note to self: Start shopping sewing.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I have a favorite song

Actually I have many favorite songs, all for different moods and meanings. This morning I feel like this song by Neil Young:
I am a child
I last a while
You can't conceive
Of the pleasure in my smile
You hold my hand
Rough up my hair
It's lots of fun
To have you there

I gave to you now
You give to me
I'd like to know
What you are
The sky is blue now
And so is the sea

What is the colour
When black is brown?
What is the colour?

You are a man
You understand
You pick me up
And you lay me down again
You make the rules
You say what's fair
It's lots of fun
To have you there.

I gave to you now
You give to me
I'd like to know
What you are
The sky is blue now
And so is the sea

What is the colour
When black is brown?
What is the colour?

I am a child
I last a while
You can't conceive
Of the pleasure in my smile

It speaks to the child in me, my wonderment with the world, and my desire to have someone ("You are a man, you understand") to hold me and assure me of what is right and wrong, what is fair, what the rules are. I need something I can stake my life on. Something I don't have in hand. I have looked in myself and I cannot find it.
That's just my mood for now.