Monday, October 31, 2011

.... A Zombie portrait.

When I was clearing out the storage room in my basement last year, I came across my wedding portrait that had been in a box ever since we had moved to Utah from California.  I looked at it and thought, what in the world am I going to do with this?  And then I had a brilliant idea  ... at least I thought it was brilliant.  I wanted to have us painted into Zombies.  Since I am divorced,  I knew I would not be hanging that wedding portrait up again the way it was, but since I am a little into Halloween, I thought it was a great idea.  (One of my girls said, "Mom, that is epic!")

I talked to an artist friend of mine about doing it for me.  He currently makes his living painting portraits of fallen soldiers so I knew I couldn't just ask him to do it for nothing.  I told him my idea was to just dirty up our clothes, grey up our faces with dark circles around our eyes and make our cheeks look sunken.  He could  maybe make my ex's eyes red ... easy peasy.  But when Layne got to thinking about it he said, "I know once I get started, I won't be able to stop.  I could spend a day and a half on it and I really can't take that kind of time."  He said, "Maybe I can just do a little bit this year and then little bit more next year.  It can be a work in progress."

Well ... we worked out a trade.  He finished it all in the next few days.  It is my new favorite Halloween decoration.  (He did change my ex enough that it doesn't look like him anymore ... phew.)

Kay, I know it is a little gruesome, but "epic" none the less.  I LOVE it.  It gets a really great response hanging right there in my entry way too.  And I think whether you are divorced or not ... it is pretty classic for Halloween.  Layne said his kids want him to paint them all as Zombies in a family portrait now.

When my kids were little I didn't even have a hint of anything spooky or scary at our house.  Maaaaaybe just a hint of a spider .... but now .... I lean much more toward the spooky.

(The cute is being overtaken ... a little bit at a time.)

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

.... Thriller.

There is a beautiful outdoor amphitheater nestled deep in the red rock mountains of  Southern Utah called the Tuacahn.  My extended family had a reunion down in St. George about ten years ago and that was the first time I had seen a production at the Tuacahn theater.  We saw "Oklahoma" and I don't think there could have possibly been a better setting for that play .... especially when Curly came riding down the back mountain on horseback singing, OOOOOOOK - lahoma where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain!

That is just one of the many attributes of this theater.  Chloe was in their summer productions two years ago when they put on Footloose, Annie, and Aida.  My favorite of the three was Aida, and one of my favorite parts of that show was when water came thundering down the mountain and flooded the stage so the "Nubians" could dance in the river.  It was quite spectacular. 

Once the summer season ends, the Tuacahn has other artists come and perform concerts into November.  One of the traditions is to have the Odyssey Dance Company perform their Halloween show, Thriller.  I have seen it once before here in Salt Lake, but this year, Haley, Sophie and I went down and saw it at the Tuacahn.  It runs for one week - just before Halloween.  

The night we went it was cool and cloudy and windy and drizzly and spooky and pretty amazing ....

Chloe was a Zombie.

She had gone down to visit her partner in crime and BFF, Trevor, a couple of weeks ago to see this years productions of Grease and The Little Mermaid.  (Chloe and Trevor actually met during her junior year at the Tuacahn High School of performing arts.)  The Odyssey Dance Company happened to be holding auditions for extras/dancing Zombies while Chloe was there, so she decided to try out.

Chloe and Trevor both made it and couldn't be having more fun.  (Except that by day three, their poor little faces were raw from the nightly makeup removal.)

The Zombies walk around among the crowd before the show, during intermission, and after the show and then dance the finale number of  Thriller with the cast.   Some of the Zombies are all up in your face (which I do NOT like), or they stay by your side far too long, making you extremely uncomfortable.

Chloe was my favorite Zombie. She didn't do that.  She would just appear in really random places, minding her own business, but making sure she was noticed.

She was definitely noticed.

Obviously, being a Halloween show, most of the numbers had a twist of the macabre side of Halloween .... like the one where Frankenstein and  his bride are wheeled onto the stage on their tables.  They both arise and start dancing a ballet number together until Frankie breaks his brides neck and the rest of the number is performed with her dead, being flopped around on stage like a rag doll.

There is an Egyptian number where princesses are dancing and then the mummies come to life and join them.  (Real camels walked across the stage during that number ... way cool.)  There is a number where a group of students all gather in a circle to tell ghost stories in a corn field.  The scarecrows come alive and attack the students with machetes ... some survive, some don't.

My very favorite number was when eight dancers came out to perform a Riverdance.  The dance is going along spectacularly (I love Riverdance) and then a sniper shoots and kills one of the girls.  Chaos ensues among the dancers, but only for a minute.  The music is still playing and the show must go on.  One by one, the dancers get shot until only one remains.  As she is taking her final bow - DOWN she goes. (It is actually really funny because the sound effects as the shots are fired are like the clanging of the metal in the duck shooting range at a carnival.  I thought it was very clever.)

I thought it was thoroughly entertaining ....

And speaking of Zombies ....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

.... Lagoon.

... I really do love a good coincidence.  It turns out that Gray knows Shanlee who sang with Haley in the girls group "Echo," and Daniel who sang in the boys group "Frequency," because they used to perform at Lagoon with Gray.  The older I get, the smaller the world gets and the greater the connections grow - it is a little freaky.

Lagoon is our local amusement park.  I had only ever been once in the fifteen years that I have lived in Utah.  Why?  I didn't think I would like it.  It looked really cheesy to me.  Growing up in Southern California and going to Disneyland about a hundred and two times, I just didn't even have a desire, thinking that nothing would compare ... that, and I don't like roller coasters and rides that make me sick.  Lagoon is full of those.

It was probably five years ago when I went for the first time during the summer season and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised!  I was rather impressed with this little local park and thought it was completely charming. And the thing that I was most impressed with was the talent in the stage shows.  I thought it was every bit as good as Disney (dare I say?!).

One of the stylists that works in the same salon with Haley has also sang at Lagoon for at least the last five years.  She mentioned to Haley that they were holding an invitation only audition for dancers for their "Hackenslash" show and she would put Haley on the list.  Haley LOVES to perform so she took advantage of the opportunity and went to the audition.  She made it.  So happy.

Sidenote:  When rehearsals for the show first started, Haley didn't think she would make it.  She said they are in full costumes with boots, gloves, masks and wigs and they dance with real chainsaws.  She said the chainsaws weigh 18 pounds.  And then she showed me some of their dance moves ... I didn't think she would make it either.  But so far, so good - and they kind of blew me away when I saw their show for the first time. I had no idea how entertaining it would be, how complicated the choreography was, or what a fun variety of songs they would dance to.  (Katy Perry's California Girls is my favorite.)

(Haley is on the right ... creepy, isn't it?)

The regular summer season for Lagoon ends at the beginning of September.  The park closes for a few weeks and then reopens through the month of October for their Frightmares.  I thought they did such a cute job (relative word use there) of revamping the park into a spooky fall festival.  I especially got a kick out of the tombstones.

(Trick or Treating ...)

Libby was loving it too .... until it got dark ... and the chainsaws started.  How do you convince a two year old that the person underneath that scary mask and wig is her Auntie Hee?  (You don't ... you just keep your distance.)

The Hackenslash dancers were the opening number for both of the stage shows.  Once they danced a few ... theeeeeen Libby LOVED the singing and dancing ...

(This little baby , on the other hand, knew which one was her mama.)

As for me ... I loved all of it ... but especially watching the Hackenslash dancer wearing the darker wig!  ;)

And speaking of creepy stage shows ...

Monday, October 24, 2011

.... The X Factor.

Our DVR is almost always full ... my girls have every singing and dancing show set to record.  One night I was getting caught up, watching episodes of the X Factor - which I am absolutely crazy about. 

I had seen clips on YouTube from the X Factor that they film in the UK (think Susan Boyle) and was really looking forward to it when I heard they were bringing it to American television with Simon Cowell as a judge. Awesome.  I have kind of missed him since he left American Idol.  I wasn't ready to stop seeing that smarty pants on TV just yet.

Simon and Paula Abdul are together again, and I like it.  (Paula's hair is looking A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. this season.) I had heard the name L.A. Reid before, from his reputation in the music industry, but hadn't really seen him and I am loving just about everything about him.  (Mr. Cool, with a capital C.) But Nicole Scherzinger?  Not that much. (Simon was on Late Night being interviewed once and the host asked him who was crazier between Paula and Nicole, and he said "I would have to say Nicole.  Sometimes she is just so weird." )

When they put the groups together on American Idol, it tended to be slightly disastrous, but on the X Factor it has been anything but.  I thought the group part of the audition process was fantastic.  All of the singers are so good in their own right and together they were even better.  There seemed to be a really sweet camaraderie between the contestants ... very supportive of one another.

And of course we were all really excited when the group, The Anser, from Salt Lake made it into the final round.  In fact, I was watching that very episode when Sophie said, "Mom, see that guy in the knit hat?  That is who Haley is on a date with tonight."


"Yeah, Haley is out on a date right now with him.  His name is Gray."  (I had no idea.)

And you KNOW I got a big kick out of that.  (Gray is a doll ... so cute, so friendly, so conversational ... and we got an inside scoop about who made it through too.)

One of the things I really do love about the X Factor is that they don't have the same age restrictions that American Idol has.  One of my very favorite little singers is Rachel Crow and she was only 13 when she auditioned and made the show.  Then there is LeRoy Bell who is 59 and also amazing.  (My girls call him Papa Gray .... we think this is what Gray will look like when he is older .... actually, they look pretty much just alike now.)

When Haley first met Gray, he mentioned that he had worked as an entertainer at Lagoon (our local amusement park) for the last eight years. Well that is a coincidence, because Haley is working at Lagoon right now .....

And speaking of coincidences ...