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Friday, October 29, 2010

I made my husband a Krang costume for Halloween

So, yeah, I'm pretty proud of this. Krang moves and speaks.

I have some wicked hot glue burn blisters on my fingers.

Matt did the bulk of the wiring.

(If you can't see the vid or pix because this was imported to Facebook, click here: I made my husband a Krang costume for Halloween.)

My hope is that he wins the costume contest at his work this year. Last year I made him a giant squid costume, but it didn't take home the prize. I think I've topped that effort, so we'll see.

Partial list of ingredients:
  • Really cheap sumo outfit from eBay
  • Stupid amounts of polyester filler to restuff the sumo outfit and Krang
  • Oven tray lid
  • Sculpey
  • Yoga mat
  • Red tshirt
  • Three different kinds of foam
  • Spray paint
  • Hot glue
  • Cellophane
  • Various small repurposed electronics
  • Pink fleece, and of course ...
  • Duct tape.

UPDATE: HE WON! W0000000t!

Also, this kind of went a little bit viral after I posted it to Reddit, where it eventually hit the front page. Notable mentions include io9, The Daily What, and Joshua Topolsky (editor-in-chief of Engadget). Nearly 50,000 hits on the first Flickr photo as of this update.

UPDATE 2: As of Monday at noon, the YouTube video currently has 117,000 hits. Flickr photo is hovering just under 100,000. On Saturday, my channel cracked the YouTube top 100 at #79. I was invited to apply for revenue sharing OMG!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Obligatory Marketing Post, or What the Hell Am I Doing, I'm Too Old for This

It may be an effect of the Wellbutrin that, although my schedule is utterly wack, I didn't realize until a few moments ago that I am currently preparing for four shows. I mentioned a couple of these in passing the last time I blogged, but four shows at once is a new record for me and deserves its own post.

I'm inexplicably doing this in addition to my college classes and private teaching schedule and studying for comps (haha, yeah, right) and and and I need to never sleep again.

As much as I hate marketing, it's sometimes necessary to tell people about shows so they'll know to buy tickets and show up. Here they are, in chronological order.

iNtuitons experimental theatre presents
Far Away

By Caryl Churchill
Directed by William Steinberger
Produced by Michael Silverstein
I composed the music.
Far Away is the story of a woman named Joan living in a world consumed by paranoia and fear. Over the course of this relatively short play, the audience sees Joan growing up and searching for human connection - through family or love - as a way to escape an all-consuming war raging throughout the world. The play begs the question* of whether we can really trust those we love most, and what this means for humanity.
Harold Prince Theatre, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
Thursday, October 28 @ 8 PM
Friday, October 29 @ 7 PM
Saturday, October 30 @ 7 PM

Villanova Theater presents
The Beaux' Stratagem

By George Farquhar
Adapted by Thornton Wilder and Ken Ludwig
Directed by Shawn Kairschner
I am selecting/arranging the music and playing it live on the harpsichord and violin.
This seldom-seen comedic gem sparkles in an effervescent adaptation by Ken Ludwig, author of the madcap Lend Me A Tenor. Aimwell and Archer, two young gallants who are short on cash and long on schemes, roam the English countryside in search of wealth and women. When they happen upon the beautiful Dorinda and equally charming Mrs. Kate Sullen, they hatch a ploy to woo and win them, but plenty of hurdles stand in their way: a feisty barmaid with her eye on Archer, Kate’s drunken slacker of a husband, Dorinda’s eccentric mother, and a band of thugs that threaten to ruin even the best-laid plans.
Villanova Theater
November 9-21

Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater presents
Shakespeare Cabaret Series

Premiere of my song cycle about Nikola Tesla and his pigeon, sung from the pigeon's perspective.
Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater
December 2

Plays & Players presents
A New Brain

By William Finn
Directed by Daniel Student
I am the musical director.
From the writer of The 25th Annual Putnam County Bee comes a personally inspired musical about a songwriter's fight for his life against AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation), which attacks the brain. Gordon Schwinn's greatest fear is dying with his greatest songs still inside of him; and so from his hospital bed, and even while in a coma, he begins writing his music. With his life reduced to sponge baths, MRIs, daytime visitors and lonely nights he utilizes his imagination to transport himself into a stunning musical journey. "I won't beat around the bush: A New Brain is the most exciting new musical to reach New York in quite a while... it is hypnotic and soulful and transporting" NY Theatre, June 1998
Plays & Players
January 6-23

Hopefully all this won't kill me, but if it does, at least go to the shows so I won't have died in vain.

* I know. Sigh.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm for ever!

Wow, it has been MONTHS since I last posted a blog entry. What's happened since then?

  • My a cappella choir piece "What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?" won the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Composition Contest and was given a double premiere by the (utterly amazing) group under the direction of Simon Carrington in Kansas City. The next day, they had a recording session, and Matt filmed one of the early takes on his Canon T2i:

    The video was posted to a bunch of blogs, including Towleroad, ChoralNet Blog, David Griggs-Janower in the Albany Times Union, Joe. My. God., Good As You, KCMetropolis (plus additional interview), and My Big Gay Ears. I also got a kick out of it being Instinct Magazine online's "Video of the Day" on June 2.

    Much love to Daphne, siblings Tony and Amy and John in KC for coming out to the performance! Here we are being all goofy.

  • The Gonzales Cantata is being staged by the American Opera Theater and Handel Choir of Baltimore in February. It's also been selected as a finalist in the 2010-2012 National Opera Association Chamber Opera Competition, and selections will be performed at the NOA convention in San Antonio on January 8. Texas!

  • After months of delays, mainly due to me procrastinating like mad, Matt and I launched my publishing site Mormolyke Press. It's pretty whizz bang for a self-publishing site, which I guess is to be expected when you've made a bunch of websites and you're married to a web developer. I don't know if any composer has a self publishing site that's quite as slick (if I do say so myself). If there is one, let me know so I can learn!

In June, I ventured to Tick Ground Zero, aka Waterford, Connecticut, for the O'Neill National Puppetry Conference -- not as a puppeteer, but as a composer. It was a whirlwind week of writing music for several terrific short puppet plays, and meeting the puppeteers behind, under or inside of some of the characters that defined my childhood. So much fun, but I can't wait to do it again next year with more energy (see health update below).

Later in the summer, I performed in Titus Andronicus at Plays & Players, and in a few weeks I'll start rehearsals there as the musical director of their production of A New Brain. I also did the music for another Fringe show, Zacherle, which was created through a very interesting improv process. In December, I'll be premiering a new piece at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre Cabaret Series.

I blather on about my health so much on this blog, I may as well make it a heading. The malaise that I blogged about early this year wouldn't clear up on its own; I was hoping it would fade away over the summer. Hence, my summer was perhaps my most unproductive on record. Seriously, I had a list of things to do, and not a single thing was crossed off the list by the time college classes began again. So! I did some research, took myself to the Penn Health Service, suggested I was depressed and asked to be put on Wellbutrin. When the doctor took my family history, she prudently insisted I go to a Penn psychiatrist on the off chance that I develop the Shong clan hereditary crazies, so for the first time in my life, I'm seeing one of those. She's actually quite nice, unlike most of the psychs my mother saw.

I had a terrible experience the first month on generic bupropion: awful migraines, nausea, dizziness, tired eyes, etc. Again, I researched, and now for what may be the first time in my life, I am willingly on a name brand drug. The pills are extended release, and apparently the generic dissolves at a much more erratic rate than Wellbutrin™. I switched, and the side effects lessened dramatically, with the result that I am actually, you know, doing stuff and accomplishing things again.

All right, enough! Here's the real reason I'm blogging again: I've been reading Moby Dick for months. It was the first book on my list of things to read over the summer, but every time I'd finish a page or two, I'd fall asleep, so it's taken rather longer than expected. I blame the depression, although Herman Melville can also be incredibly slow.

Now that I'm on Wellbutrin, I'm getting through it much faster. I just came across a passage that had me in hysterics, because although I am a 30-year-old woman, at heart I am a boy in his early teens. Here it is, completely out of context, for your reading pleasure:
Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers' hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say, - Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness. Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm for ever!

Matt: "No wonder they don't read this in high school any more."