Monday, May 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Eden!

We were recently in Guelph to celebrate my niece Eden's first birthday. Phil and I got a few nice shots of the event, but I'll just post my favourite one. I think all things in life should be approached with this attitude:

"Wheeee birthday yay!!!"

(although with Eden's limited vocabulary it sounded more like, "Wow! Yeah! Hi!")

Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Reviews of Books I Barely Remember: Part 1

Kristy's Great Idea
by Ann M. Martin

This is the first (of 132, as of this month) in the Babysitter's Club series, which I started reading when I was 11 years old. I don't recognize any titles after the 50-book mark, so I guess I was too busy being an awkward high school student to follow the trials of Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey and the others past 1992.
I ate this book up, much the same way I devoured four seasons of Sex and the City on DVD when I was bored for those two months in the winter of 2004. They are both giant chocolate-bars-with-caramel-inside for the brain.

The plot: Kristy gathers her three friends who all have different but complementary personalities and, more importantly, varied hair colours and styles, to form a club of babysitters (a "babysitter's club", if you will) which gathers weekly to schedule babysitting appointments for their neighbours, all of whom somehow remember to call during their club meeting hours.

The main characters: To continue with the Sex and the City comparison: boy-crazy Stacey would certainly be slutty Samantha, traditional and romantic Mary Anne would be Charlotte, bossy Kristy would be Miranda and I guess that leaves Claudia as the Carrie character, which works only in that both of their names start with "C".

But this post isn't about Sex and the City.

Did I like this book? At the time, yes. Why? Because it satisfied a deep-seated pre-teen female urge to have girlfriends with whom to gossip, eat homemade chocolate chip cookies, and complain about smelly boys. I was also a popular babysitter in our neighbourhood in Guelph, so I could relate to the girls' entrepreneurial ambitions. I remember having a weekly Friday night gig where I'd babysit two kids for five hours, and go home with a ten dollar bill and I thought that was awesome. I suppose those very low standards prepared me well for my actor's income.

Did I have any issues with this book? Yes. Kristy lives with her mom and stepdad, and her stepdad's two little kids from a previous marriage only come to visit them every other weekend, yet Kristy always seems to be babysitting them. So, let me get this straight: you get to see your kids four days a month, and somehow those are the days when you schedule martini dates with friends? TAKE A PARENTING COURSE.

Final verdict: If you are a girl who is 11 and it is 1989 and you like to read, you will love this book.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dear shoes.

Dear shoes,

Why do I have so many of you? I thought I was a low-maintenance person, but when I see you, my vast collection of footwear, I am forced to consider that the opposite may be true.

A lot of you are in storage. I've only kept in the front hall those of you that are essential to my every-day life at this moment (no disrespect, comfy brown winter boots with the pom-poms). Still, you are so many in number. Why?

I know why you're there, silver pointy-toed flats. You are new and shiny and hip, and even comfortable (thanks, Soft Moc).

White sandal pumps from Payless, I remember I bought you on a whim one day when I needed open-toed shoes to take to a pedicure appointment, and you have turned out to be one of my most-worn pair of summer shoes. Thanks for that.

Turquoise high-heeled sandals from Rockport. My love for you is real. You make me feel like I'm walking on air, and though I didn't wear you as much as I meant to last season, 2010 is sure to be your year.

Pretty brown flip-flops from Kenya. You get a lot of compliments because you're just so darn attractive. Even though you sometimes discolour the bottoms of my feet, I foresee a long future for us.

Tall black boots. Necessary.

Bronze pumps from Vancouver. Remember how I went back to the store three times before buying you? That was back when $99 seemed like a fortune, and I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision. I think we can both feel confident that I did.

Silver high-heeled sandals and gold high-heeled sandals, you will see me through many a wedding and dressy social function this spring and summer. Thank you in advance.

And you, the triumverate of super duper high heels: red, black, and bronze with the cheap-looking fake jewels on the toe. You joined my wardrobe compliments of the Maria show, so while I may not wear you often, you are still dear to my heart.

Black slip-on Sketchers. You have absolutely no heel support, but you're really easy to slip on when I need to take out garbage or go down to the laundry room, and so you stay.


You, new black shoes from Spring, have to go. My feet are still healing from our first and only jaunt around the city. I hope I will get my $30 back, though your soles are so obviously scuffed. Had I but known you would crush my tender little toesies so.

As for the rest of you, you may stay for another season, or perhaps five. But, with the blogosphere as my witness, you will not grow in number for at least 6 months.

Thank you for listening, shoes. I'm glad I got that off my chest.



Tuesday, May 4, 2010

ACTOR TIPS: Surviving a musical theatre performance when you have a cold.

Recently I was doing a musical here in Toronto, and I developed a cold in my final week of the run. Colds and flus make performing way less fun than it should be, but there are ways to deal with them - and deal with them we must! Here's how I get through the inevitability of getting sick while doing a run:

1. Sleep
This goes in the "duh" category. You know that sleep is important at all times, but especially when your body is trying to heal, right? So try to get as much sleep as possible before each show. If you need help with that, I would like to introduce you to my friends Neo Citran and NyQuil.

2. Oil of Oregano
Buy some oil of oregano (a natural antiobiotic) at the local health food store (or even some Shoppers Drugmart locations) and take 4 drops, three times a day. You can just put it under your tongue, or have it with water or juice. It does wonders for me.

3. Drink water.
When I'm sick, I make sure to have water bottles strategically placed in several places backstage. I find that if I make sure to lubricate my throat as often as possible, I'm way less likely to go into a coughing fit. Don't let your throat get dry.

4. Lozenges
Placing lozenges in several places backstage, and maybe in a pocket partially unwrapped (in case you have a coughing emergency on stage) is never a bad idea.

5. Green tea with honey.
A warm drink can be very soothing, but I find that black tea gives me a scratchy throat. Green tea with honey is just the ticket.

6. Breathe through your nose.
Especially if you are doing a musical, try breathing through your nose so your throat doesn't dry out as fast.

7. Pace yourself.
Save your energy for the show. Even having an animated discussion with another actor in the green room can zap your energy when you're sick, so try finding a quiet space where you can chill out.

8. Get to know your voice.
When you're sick, you may have to adjust the way you sing. Get to know your voice and what it needs (you don't want to rock your high belt if you know that your cold is going to cause your voice to crack). Maybe when you're sick you need to use your head voice more, or give more air support. Everyone's different, so get to know how you operate.

9. Prescription cough syrup.
Sometimes you have to break out the big guns. When I was working at The Grand last fall I had a cough that just wouldn't go away. The doctor at the local walk-in clinic gave me a prescription for cough syrup with codeine and it made my cough disappear completely. Kind of like magic.

10. Sour Kids
Sucking on a few Sour Kids (or any kind of sour, chewy candy) is a great way to lubricate your throat. Seriously - a doctor told me that!