Saturday, January 31, 2009

Posting for the sake of posting.

Dear Blog,

I'm tired. It was a long day which involved a drive to Fort Erie in a snowstorm. But for some reason I feel compelled to write. I thought I'd give myself permission to do so, despite having no particular topic to discuss. I'm just curious to see what gems might be born of my fatigue.

Like, first of all: what is with Facebook statuses these days? Every second one is a cry for help: "Amy doesn't know if she can go on" and "Greg wonders when things will get better". I think some Vitamin D is definitely in order. Hey, maybe I'll make that my Facebook status: "Alison urges you to spend more time in the sun. Yeah, I know it's cold out there. Deal with it."

In other news, did you know that it takes 2.5 hours to drive to Fort Erie from Guelph in a snowstorm, which is a full hour longer than my dad said it would take? Did you also know that there is a theatre in Fort Erie called the "Gypsy Theatre" which ironically is located in one place and never moves?

This week I had dinner at Milestones and my appetizer was bruschetta made with bocconcini and olive tapenade. Did you know that this is the best kind of bruschetta that has ever existed in all the world? It goes especially well with Cosmos, but that might be the Cosmos talking.

I saw two movies this week: Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler. One of them is about an aging wrestler and one is about a boy who grows up in the slums of India, but I won't tell you which is which because I don't want to give anything away.

I am reading a book called The Secret which is going to teach me "who I really am", if the back cover is right. I hope that who I am is someone really cool, otherwise I might end up not liking me and I'll start talking behind my back and not inviting myself to parties.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I went to the Fringe Festival lottery draw last night. I didn't get into the Fringe, but I am 10th on the waiting list. I called my company "Top 10 Productions" and my show centres around me coming in 10th on How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

That is a lot of 10's. Neat, eh?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CTV weather support group.

Yesterday I was at CTV shooting some funny spots, which are follow-ups to this one. The main guy in that commercial is Jay Newman, who is one of my brother's best friends. It's a pretty funny mock-intervention of a guy who insists on wearing shorts in the winter. Funnily enough, when I saw the spot I thought of Dave (my little bro) right away, because he is TOTALLY that guy! And when I mentioned that to Jay, he said that Dave had been his inspiration. Cute.

Jay was there again as we shot four spots that will start airing on Superbowl Sunday. The conceit of these new spots is that there are a number of us at a support group for people who have winter weather issues, much like the Shorts Guy from the first spot. I was originally going to be the person who fears falling icicles, but that is an actual, valid fear (especially this winter) so it was vetoed due to possible unfunniness.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stuff I'm Doing.

Hi, all y'all. Just thought I'd let you know what I'm up to these days. This week I worked with some very cool people on a commercial shoot. It's a hilarious spot, so I'm excited to see the final edit - and I will of course post it here when it's done. 

I've just been cast in a play called You Don't Know the Half of It, which will be running February 18th - 21st in Peterborough. I'll be working with some good friends from my 4th Line days, so I'm pretty pumped about this contract. 

I have submitted my one-woman show to the Toronto Fringe festival. This is my first Fringe application ever, though I've performed in several shows there. My show will centre around my reality show experience. I have a very animated thread on Facebook right now with the other 9 Marias because I asked them to remind me of funny or strange things that happened in Maria school and during the live show. We all have A LOT to say...and most of it is hilarious :)

In other news, I finished another hat yesterday. And drank a Cosmo that gave me funny dreams. I think that's about it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How to knit a hat.

I started knitting about a year ago when I was doing a show with my friend Christine Rossi at Talk is Free Theatre. She is quite an avid knitter, and got me started making scarves. During my Prince George contract, I conquered leg warmers, slippers and hats. 

I love it.

Knitting is very therapeutic and hugely satisfying. I love to turn on CBC, make a cup of tea, and knit a warm winter hat. It feels wholesomerrific. 

Because I'm still a newbie, I have been surfing the internet to find easy patterns. The hat above is one of the simplest patterns I've ever seen. Here's what you do:

1) Cast on 25 stitches.
2) Knit until it's long enough to wrap around your head.
3) Cast off, sew into a tube.
4) Weave yarn through one end of tube, then pull to form top of hat.

If you don't know the basics of knitting, like casting on and off, or how to knit and purl, just check out YouTube for instructional videos. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids.

I don't remember the last time I laughed as much as I did last night. I went to a reading series called "Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids". They were holding their 6th installment at the Tranzac, conveniently located 2 minutes from my apartment. Not that it wouldn't have been worth it to trudge across the city, even in the bitter cold. 

Dan Misener, the creator of GRTTWAK, has three criteria for the readings in this open-mic environment. 

1) You must be the person who wrote it as a child.
2) You must be the person who reads it as an adult.
3) It must be short (less than 5 minutes).

Last night I heard various diary entries, short stories, letters, birthday cards, and excerpts from a newspaper publication for cats and dogs that one man had written at age 7. These things are inherently funny and charming, just by the very fact that they were written by children. Dan makes podcasts at each of the GRTTWAK performances. Here's one I found on his website. I was lucky enough to hear the second chapter of this story about ghost cats last night. 

The next "Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids" will be in the spring, exact date TBA. You have to go.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Smile-ing. :)

Now that Christmas is over, things are buzzing in the acting world again. I've been on several commercial auditions this week, and I just found out I booked a theatre gig. What makes it extra-special is that I really really REALLY wanted to get this show, as opposed to only really REALLY wanting it like with other gigs. I'll be doing a new musical called Extraordinary with Smile Theatre, a company that tours to seniors' residences. Jim Betts, the Artistic Director of Smile, wrote the show and will be directing it. He is a person I've heard lots of great things about, and I'm thrilled to finally have the chance to work with him. 

Here's a little blurb about Extraordinary that they have on the Smile website:

This world premiere celebrates the unique contributions of the Canadian women who became wives and mothers in the years following the 2nd World War. This original musical is dedicated to the women who challenged expectations and were instrumental in changing the world they lived in.

Have I mentioned how much I love working on new plays and musicals? In all my years at 4th Line Theatre I was able to take part in many workshops of new works, and I always love feeling like I'm helping with the writing process. 

In other, personal news: my Uncle George, who has been waiting for 6 months for a lung transplant, had his surgery on Tuesday and is currently slowly regaining consciousness and generally doing well at Toronto General Hospital. It's quite a miraculous thing, organ donation. My mom gave Uncle George a sweatshirt for Christmas that said, "Don't take your organs to heaven, heaven knows we need them here." Too true. All the best, Uncle George!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Girls' Night!

My friend Kate is staying with me right now. She lives in Bristol, but we met in 1990 when our fathers worked together as principal and vice principal of a public school in Guelph. We became the best of friends in high school and have stayed in touch ever since. When she visits Toronto she usually stays with me, which makes my life seem a bit like an extended sleepover. I love that. My only complaint is the buckets of ice cream, slabs of fudge, and containers of Turtles brownies which keep showing up in my kitchen. It's post-Christmas, and I should be on a diet of raw vegetables and air soup. Doesn't she know that? 

Nicole also came over last night and we had a jam session which we posted on YouTube. She and I were in the same theatre school class, and were roommates all through University. Whenever we sing together I am reminded of the jam sessions we had in our Erindale townhouse, she playing my guitar which I rarely touched at that point.  "Annie's Song" was our favourite tune. Now, 11 years after we first met, she's still my favourite singing partner. And making our YouTube video reminded me that we need to jam way more often.

So last night, I and my two totally awesome long-time girlfriends hung out and chatted and laughed, ate brownies and ice cream and watched several episodes of "The Office". Total girls' night! And at no point did any of us try to discern which Sex and the City character we represented, which was refreshing.

Friday, January 2, 2009

VIDEO BLOG - Conducting

Since working as vocal coach on A Christmas Carol this fall, I've decided to endeavour to hone my music-directorial skills as much as possible this year. First up, here I am conducting a small girls' choir in my basement apartment. Enjoy!