carlfoxmarten: (default)
It's past 1am right now, so this is going to be brief.

Likely due to the major lack of sleep I'd managed to get during the run of The Mousetrap, I got a pretty major cold right afterwards.
It lasted for about a week, but now I'm still feeling the effects of it more than a week after that.
Mostly stuff in my throat and a bunch of coughing.

At least I'm not required to sing until about June, when auditions for the next panto will be.

I'm still coming up with a list of songs I'm considering for my audition.
Due to issues I've been having with my phone, however, the list keeps getting deleted and I have to start it over again.

Right now, I'm looking for a song about three minutes in length, with no long instrumental introduction (not like the early days of band music, where the singer got second billing – if at all – to the band, and had to come in for the second chorus), preferably no instrumental sections, and preferably with just one singer.

My plan for future auditions is to choose a different artist whose work I enjoy each year, to see just how versatile I can be.
My first audition was with Fred Astaire's The Piccolino, which I'd sung for several years before, so I knew how the song went very well.
The second audition was with Matt Dusk's The Theme from the Loaded Gun, song that has great drive in places, and I managed to improvise a sort of dance routine to go along with it. Got a round of applause for that one, too, so I must have done something right. =^.~=

We have just three weeks left in the month, and it doesn't sound like we've found another place to life just yet, though it sounds like there's one that might possibly work.
I'll have to wait until mom and dad make their decision, though I should probably make sure I start to pack up my stuff too...
carlfoxmarten: (default)
So, apparently I've done so well with repairing our current magic wand that I've been asked to make our next one! =^.^=

Further talks and research into what people would like and would find useful and/or helpful has yielded a pretty good amount of information.
For example, since our director of 25 years has somewhat retired and her son (who has also been with us for a very long time) has taken over as director, he has quite a lot of ideas that could make things even better, including our future magic wand.

Our previous wand was only capable of flashing when charged and turned on, so there is a lot that can be done to improve on that.
In fact, our current wand is now capable of glowing when charged and on, which is already a great improvement.

He'd mentioned that what he'd like a very capable wand that can do a lot, but the various features can be turned on or off as desired each year.
He did also say that it would probably require a user's manual because of all the features, but we do make sure our fairies are able to use the wand well before the show starts.

Here's a list of some example effects that we'd like a new wand to do:
  • Pulsate or cycle through a rainbow when the fairy is invoking a spell.
    (this is a very straightforward effect that can be easily done with about fifteen dollars-worth of parts, and is programmable to boot)
  • A ‘disco ball’-like effect of dots of light rotating slowly around inside the bulb.
    (this is going to be tricky, as we can't have any shadows on the front of the bulb)
  • A sort of ‘chaser’ effect, with columns of light spinning around the bulb.
    (this should be relatively straightforward. Just a few LEDs with fins between each pair so their light doesn't interfere with each other)
Quite an interesting list, though I'm quite sure it's not complete yet.
Though I'm not sure that would be possible to have all those effects on the same wand, not without having multiple wand tips anyway.

I also don't think I'm ready to try putting all that together my first time making a new wand, so I'll likely be making at least two wands, with the first one being rather less capable than the later one(s).
Hopefully I can get the first one done before February 27th, as that's when my theatre company is having its cast party...
carlfoxmarten: (default)
The last rehearsal for our Pantomime was on Sunday, so tonight we have a cue-to-cue session (basically where our Stage Manager sets up the list of cues for lighting, sound, curtains, drop-cloths, adinfinitum, that will be used to keep everything on-track and timed right.
It's a very long evening, starting work at 6pm, and going until about 10.

Then we have a dress rehearsal on Thursday night, a preview performance on Friday, and opening night is on Saturday.
After that, we have Friday, Saturday, Sunday shows for the next three weeks.

While I like performing, I still hate the makeup... =>.<=
carlfoxmarten: (default)
Well, the magic wand our pantomime's fairy queen uses was handed back to our director for final structural repairs before it gets handed back to our props mistress (who is also our fairy queen, and is also the person who broke it in the first place), so it's quite literally out of my hands now.

Fortunately, it was in excellent working order before then, so I'm pretty happy about that right now.

Next up is to write some documentation on working with and repairing it, should I not be around when such things need to happen.
Plus, it would be a good idea to mention that it's, oh, I dunno, dangerous what with the high voltages involved.

Anyway, because the flash unit (which I'd made removeable) is hard to describe with words, I just know that I'm going to need pictures.
The downside to that is that I need pictures.
Despite having taken a number of photos while I still had it, I need to improve their legibility, which means I have a fair bit of processing work ahead of me.

Unfortunately, this is not something I already know how to do, and so I'll need to learn as I go.
There are many techniques that might possibly help, but I won't know until I get to that point.

For example, I can draw vector graphics overtop the image to recreate the images with far more control over how it looks than other methods, or I could painstakingly draw lines around the edges of objects and manually adjust their colours and shading.
Both are still very hands-on, lengthy operations however...
carlfoxmarten: (default)
Okay, just one prop.

But it's a rather interesting problem, and one that's taken me two weeks to get to even a moderate understanding what the problem is...

I've already mentioned on here about the idea I'm working on for a remote sound-effect trigger system.
Well, our director noticed how (seemingly) adept I am with electronics, and on November 8th approached me with a supposedly simple problem.

You see, we feature our fairy queen with a magic wand prop, which gives off a bright flash when its button is pressed. The flash is bright enough to be seen in the back rows of the theatre, but not bright enough to blind the fairy.
Anyway, apparently our current fairy queen was taking last year's decorations off the wand when she accidentally broke the ball off the end.

You know, the ball that contains a flash circuit board from an old film camera?
She broke the wires off the circuit board, and the question was how to get it back in working order.

My initial response: Yeah! Sure! I'll have it done by next week!

Yeah, no.

The circuit board was taken from an old film camera, and therefore not intended to be used in the manner we have been, so the pads I'm supposed to solder the wires back onto are not marked, which in turn meant that I had to follow the traces on the PCB by hand.
(yes, I checked. The part number on the board didn't show up anywhere online)

Anyway, after finding about half-a-dozen different schematics for various brands of old xenon-type flash units (none of which matched mine), I finally (thought) I'd figured it out and decided to move all the components to a new board.
Unfortunately, it didn't work, and I then moved only the parts responsible for charging the capacitor back to the original board, where it worked again.
(turns out I'd missed a connection)

My current plan is (as I'm still not finished it yet) to use both boards to make it a more compact package, incorporating a plug and socket between the wand itself and the flash unit so we can have a backup flash unit.
(and hopefully this won't happen again)

I wired the whole thing up again in a temporary manner on my workbench (aka, my bed with a board overtop) and it works again! =^.^=
Next up is to move the charge LED (now a bright white one instead of a tiny green one) next to the flashbulb, lower the value of the resistor right beside it, and wire the boards together properly.
carlfoxmarten: (podium)
Panto preparation has begun in earnest! =^.^=

Friday night was the first read-through, where everybody involved sat around a bunch of tables and we all read our parts in turn.
(well, I don't have much of a part, being in the chorus and all)

Anyway, as we opened with everybody introducing themselves and stating what part they had, it became apparent that almost half our cast is new this year, and several haven't even seen one of our pantos before.
Also, one of the young women is rather hyper, and an aficionado of both Doctor Who and Star Trek.
(there are jokes for both in the script, though not enough of the first one, in my opinion)

It turns out that one of the new people (and his mother!) is someone I've known from years ago, as we both went to the same chess club (before membership was charged for) and we were both homeschooled.
Apparently, we both went to the same university, though I'm not sure where else we've met, as I'm pretty sure I've seen him relatively recently.

The new rehearsal space is in the general area of last year's space, but is (unfortunately) much further from the bus routes, so I have to do a fair bit of walking to get to it.
On the benefits side, it's much larger, has bathrooms (yes! Plural!), a fridge and microwaves, a good amount of parking (not that I'd need any), and we even have some space to build our set pieces there too.

There's a total of seventeen songs in this year's panto, up from ten at most from last year, and many of them are original works.
Also, the chorus is in at least half of them, so that's at least eight to ten songs we'll get to learn.
In addition, it seems we have at least twice the, not sure what to call this, um, "formal-style" dances to learn this time around.

We've already started to learn at least four songs, two of which are the classic ones we sing at the end of every show, so two entirely new ones.
We also started learning one of the many dance routines, and in the process, I got paired up with the hyper young lady I mentioned above.
Hopefully we won't step on each other's toes too much...
carlfoxmarten: (podium)
So, a week and a half at one theatre, five days at another, and it was all over.
Three months spent rehearsing, and it's all over in less than three weeks total.

The actual performances were pretty fun.
I kept an eye on how everybody (the leads in particular) varied in their performances, and the differences were usually minor.
Though there were three times that were of particular note, as in all instances an actor forgot either an entrance or line, and those involved had to fill-in for them.

One example was Cinderella.
In the group I was with, there's almost always something left on-stage and the audience is told to call for them if somebody should get close to it.
Well, just one time it seems that she forgot she was supposed to come back onstage, so it took almost half a minute before she realized her mistake.
(I still don't know what happened, though it's not important)

The second example I'll give was the Fairy Queen.
There are two spells she has to remember, which is a little tricky because they're poems, and they aren't terribly short either.
Anyway, she started to use the spell that changed Cinder's dress to change the coach, and she managed to catch her mistake and recover from it in rhyme too! =^.^=

Anyway, the cast party isn't until late February, and I'll definitely be attending that.

Also, since the show is now over, people have been asking me what I'll be getting involved in to tide me over to next year.
Right now, I don't have an answer to that.
Another group of actors does Gilbert and Sullivan productions, but I'd rather see one of their shows before I decide on whether I want to participate or not.

Getting involved in something is starting to be a higher priority for me, as I'm not really doing much outside of work right now.
(going home and hanging out on the computer doesn't count. I don't think it's ever counted, not really)

You also know that it's important when just about everybody who knows you well enough says you should.
And also when somebody who doesn't know you all that well says it's a good idea.
(one of the ladies from one of the other stores the boss owns also says it's a good idea)

Anyway, the boss is being very nice and has offered to cover the class fee for taking the beginning quilt class should I chose to take it.
It's starting to be rather tempting.
Especially when you take a couple of bolts of fabric off the shelves and start to compare them to see how well they'd work together... =>.>=
(more thought must be put into it, that much I know)
carlfoxmarten: (podium)
Yikes! =0.0=
We're getting awfully close to our first performance date!
Just three more weekends before the preview showing on December 20th, and things are wobbling along fairly well.

Everything that we started rehearsing months ago (has it really been that long? Wow, guess so!) is pretty solid right now, but we're having the usual issues with stuff introduced more recently.
(which makes me glad we're devoting time and effort to them)

This past Saturday we ran through almost the whole show, and halfway through the second act, every other lead that had lines forgot them, leaving things rather hilarious. =^.^=

Another decidedly odd thing that happened this weekend was the fortunes in the cap of my Jones sodas.
(I've been buying a bottle of Jones soda for the past month or so to drink in the latter part of rehearsals, so I don't get a stomach full of carbonation and need to almost constantly burp while singing)
On Saturday, just after we the chorus stepped off "stage" during rehearsal to await our next appearance, I opened my soda to this fortune:
“Your silence at this time is important.”

It was weird, because those of us not on-stage need to be quiet so the director, etc, can hear what's going on to do their job.

Shared it around a bit, commenting on how apropos it was, had a few laughs, commented on their Facebook page, etc etc.

Sunday, I was thirsty earlier in the day, and opened my bottle after the director gave her directing notes to the cast, emphasising that you're supposed to be smiling when you're not reacting to something on-stage.

That fortune read:
“Always smile.”

Passing strange, right?
Got more laughs as I passed it around, as well as comment from the director saying that I'd probably be getting pretty lucky on them if I kept it up.

Later in the day, we had a ten-minute break and I decided to have another to see what came up next.
(there's a store that sells Jones just about next-door to our rehearsal space, so it was easy to get another one)

Now, we'd just been going over some of the more complicated choreography to pin down what we're supposed to be doing, so it was rather surprising to get this fortune:
“Concentration leads to success.”

Um, getting spooky over here... =>.>=
carlfoxmarten: (podium)
Huh, I haven't posted on here in quite a while...

Panto rehearsals are coming along pretty nicely, we've got three songs down pretty much pat, two more that are pretty trivial, and warning that we've only one more chorus-only rehearsal left to learn two more songs.
After that, we get mashed together with the leads and start to run through the whole thing.

Because we've been focusing on the songs, when we're put together with the leads, we should be able to blow them away very nicely.
The minuet should be rather nice too. =^.^=

We're also starting to get an idea of some of the things surrounding the songs.
For example, we learned that the curtain is a few feet back from the front of the stage, comes from above, and is weighted with a very long, very heavy steel pipe.
Not exactly something you want landing on your head.
One of the songs ends with about half of us in front of where it would land, holding a pose for a couple seconds.
When that pose is over, we need to start moving backward pretty fast, because the curtain is going to come down and knock us for a loop, or even kill somebody if they didn't move fast enough.
(one person had received a nice bruise on her head from just a glancing blow, through a hard hat of some kind!)

The producer/director has been very busy the last few weeks and hasn't been able to actually attend the chorus rehearsals, but she'd called one of the people at yesterday's rehearsal and heard us as we sang one of the songs.
I forget which song it was, but she apparently liked what she heard. =^.^=

Next week I'm rather nervous about doing Riverdance...

Some of the people involved in the panto are also doing a small comic retelling of The Hound of the Baskervilles.
I attended the preview performance and liked it enough to want to see it again, so I'll be attending tomorrow's performance.
(the fact that, as a panto person, I get 60% off the ticket price has nothing to do with it. You believe me, right? =^.~= )
carlfoxmarten: (podium)
Well, half of the first rehearsal in my case, anyway.
(my baby niece's dedication was today as well, so I went to that first, then hoofed it over to catch the second half of the first rehearsal for the chorus members – with the blessings of the production team)

Well, that was a lot of work! =0.0=

Plus I seriously need to strengthen my right shoulder, as there are several moves I need to make with it that look passable for about two seconds before the arm weakened enough to fall out of position.
(fortunately my brother gave me a couple of exercises that should strengthen my back and shoulders. Unfortunately, that means I need to actually do them...)

I won't be mentioning songs on here, as I don't want to spoil any possible surprises, at least not until January.
(granted, I know there isn't much chance of somebody watching me here actually coming to see the panto...)

I never realized just how much work goes into any sort of production like this.
Or how hot it could get!
It was a good thing I'd brought water...
(probably would not be a good idea to take soda, as it's a diuretic and there's no washroom in the rehearsal space just yet)

Anyway, we went through the entire first number we the chorus will be doing for about two hours and got pretty good at it by the time we finished.
We'll probably spend another couple of sessions going over it, but there's three more songs for us to learn and choreograph, and only about twelve weeks left, so time's moving quickly for us!

...It's also weird how I've already started saying "us" and "we" when referring to the panto company... =>.>=
carlfoxmarten: (podium)
(gee, three posts from me in one morning. I must have things to say...)

Well, I finally did something about it.

I've been attending Christmas pantomimes for at least five years now, and have been really enjoying my favourite Christmas tradition quite a bit.

It's going to be rather interesting to see what happens when I'm on the other side of the non-existent fourth wall.

Yes, you read that right, I'm going to be in one of this year's pantos.

I'm on the mailing list for two different local theatre companies, the two that put on pantos around Christmas, and noticed that one of them had started their casting calls a couple of months ago with the primary auditions happening back in June.
Then I noticed that they had another audition a month or so after that, mostly for male singers.
Then they had another audition for the male chorus this last Sunday, so I decided to try out.

Apparently my mom was right, they did want me.

I'm now going to be a part of the male chorus.
Also, my vocal range makes me a tenor.

This year's panto (for this company, anyway) will be Cinderella, so we'll finally have a dislikeable dame!
(according to what I was told, we'll actually have two dames to boot! Talk about breaking the mold in style!)

Because I live within walking distance of the theatre it'll be performed at, I'm not concerned about getting there on those days.
Instead, I'm somewhat concerned about getting to rehearsals, as they'll be a little further away.
I guess I'll need to pick up some more bus passes...
carlfoxmarten: (podium)
So this year I'm going to see what I can do to help out one of my favourite Christmas traditions: Christmas Pantomimes.

As I have no confidence with my singing voice at present, I've put in my offer to volunteer as a backstage hand.

Haven't heard back from their stage manager just yet, but both the person in charge and the person in charge of their Facebook page were very encouraging.

We shall see...
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
I don't know why I keep doing this. I guess I should learn to start saying "no" more often...

On Tuesday my supervisor at the newspaper asked if I could substitute on another route, and, forgetting that even two routes is a bit much for me right now, I said yes.

It's a 120-paper route, which is a little large, and it's also a little more distant than I should accept next time, so I've been getting kind of tired after just the firs two routes, causing me to delay longer than I should between the second and third routes.

Anyway, I'd noticed that the paperwork I'd been sent on the route had mentioned a start date, but no end date, so I sent my supervisor a note about it, asking if it was intentional and reminding her that I'd agreed to a week, though if needed I could handle it up to next Wednesday (at the time, December 8th).

She replied saying that I was "the best", so I can only assume I'll be doing the extra route come Wednesday.

The second compliment was when I delivering the second route this past Wednesday.
I'd been told that one house had been having problems getting any paper carriers to put the paper in the paper rack under the mailbox, so when I came along they really appreciated it.
Enough so that they gave me a ten dollar tip.

This was enough for me to go see a pantomime at the local arts centre called Snow White and the Vertically-Challenged Excavators
(more on this later)

As I was getting autographs in the lobby afterwards, two or three people tried to get mine, even though I wasn't in the show!
I asked one of the actors if they thought I was dressed up enough to have been in it, and he agreed.

So, maybe I should try out for next year's panto?
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
I must say I had a pretty happy birthday on Saturday.
I got stuff I wanted, as well as several gift cards, and I even got to see a pantomime, too!

The important stuff I got:
  • The first two Schlock Mercenary books (Tub of Happiness and The Teraport Wars)
  • The FlyTech BladeStar helicopter. (sure I have another RC copter, but that one only lets me control the height, while this allows me to control much more)
  • A book on Electronic Arts' first twenty-five years. (fascinating read, though the first ten or fifteen years are more interesting to me at the moment)
  • Cats: Commemorative Edition (there's interviews with some of the actors and the producers that describes a bit of how and why it was done)
  • Clue: The Movie (the movie based on the board game. Very entertaining)
  • The Funny Blokes of British Comedy (it's going to be very funny, as it includes some clips from Are You Being Served?, Fawlty Towers, Good Neighbours, and more!)
  • A tape of some of Victor Borge's musical comedy. (most of what I have so far is his jokes, so I don't have much of him horsing around on the piano)
  • A book called Rhyme and PUNishment: Adventures in wordplay (should be good!)
  • Also of some mention: More mint chocolate (I'm starting to get tired of it, despite the fact that it's one of my favourites) and more gift cards (for London Drugs, Tim Hortons, and A&W)

The pantomime I got to see was put on by the Royal Canadian Theatre Company at the Surrey Arts Center. If you've ever seen the Robin Hood pantomime as put on by Ross Petty Productions, you'll notice some similarities.
I really enjoyed the "band", a two-piece accompaniment made up of a set of drums and an electronic piano, both played by people old enough to know how to play them properly. They played before and after the show, as well as during the intermission, a selection of songs such as Christmas favourites, some Big Band stuff, and more.

One other thing they had while the show wasn't running was snowflakes projected onto the walls of the theatre, they gave a very nice effect that I think more theatres (as well as theaters) should do. It adds so much to the experience.

Some of the songs they sang were from various places, including one from Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang (You're My Little Teddy Bear), Anything You Can Do (they included a verse about singing anything faster...), and, and...
Hmm, must be bed time again...


My semester starts today (Monday), with one class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, another class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a third class Tuesday evenings, and one of them is on the campus closest to me.

The nearest campus is having an open-house event on March 4th, so I need to get my act together and figure something out to present for the Computing Science department...

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Carl Foxmarten

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