Monday, July 30, 2012

Harold in the Hammer

For the past seven weeks, I've been attending a course in long-form improv, under the wise tutelage of Scott Lloyd of Flint Improv Co.   As you might have guessed, long-form improv is just like short form improv only longer.  I've learned a lot, set painting, building relationships, some other stuff that I forget at this moment. I've also had a lot of fun (I always have fun when I learn).

Well tomorrow night the long-form improv classes are putting on a show. My four classmates and I make up the improv troupe HUGE Pimpin'.  The other two teams, Know Konsensus and JJJAWSS are made up of highly talented people I know from boot camp. (A lot of them have been in shows already and they are all sure to provide oodles of awesomeness).

I wish I could pick out the best scenes from the past few weeks and put them in the show, but improv doesn't work like that.  No, everything will be made up on the spot (which is easier than it seems, and yet requires more preparation than you'd imagine). We are all capable of greatness, and we've gotten better and better the more practice Harolds we perform. I'm a little nervous, but I think we'll kick butt together.

If you are in the Hamilton area and want to come and see the show (and you do, trust me), then call Staircase and reserve your tickets.  They are a steal at $10 ($8 if you are a poor student).  The big production starts promptly at 8 and should go for an hour, hour and a half, something like that (I dunno, it's improvised).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Everyone loves a good zombie.

I've done it again, achieved proof of my writing prowess by winning another weekly flash fiction contest.  This tells me two things, #1 I really need to update my twitter profile pic, and #2 I should start entering contests that award cash prizes.

Three prompts for this one, the above photo, the phrase "survive this" which must be included somewhere in the piece, and the following scenario provided by judge Karen DeLabar:
"You woke up… ten days later. What do you do? What do you remember? Where are you? How do you piece everything together?"
 No rhyming couplets for this one, just your average zombie tale.  Le voici:

My Last Meal
By J M Filipowicz

I wake in a rainbow glow, the aurora borealis casting its light over the parking lot. If I believe the date on my wristwatch, ten days have passed. My suit and stockings are caked in black mud, my new black pumps missing. My head throbs. Touching my hair, I find it sticky with blood. A pool of it stains the pavement, footprints running through. They left me for dead, took my shoes and kept running.

Hunger gnaws. I think of the last thing I ate, yogurt from the break room fridge. No time for proper breakfast. If I survive this, I’ll have a steak, juicy and rare. I can taste the salty sweet blood.

I limp across the parking lot. A shadow darts under a flickering street light.

“Wait!” My voice groans. I don’t recognize it.

A man steps into the light, wearing the olive green of a security guard. He approaches cautiously, holding his broken flashlight like a weapon. He reeks of sweat and fear. An animal inside me takes over. I know how to satisfy my hunger.

As the man swings his flashlight I grab his arm, pull it towards me, and take a bite. Salty and sweet.


200 words on the nose. Woot! Woot!  Here's what judge Karen had to say about it:
"As much as I love romance, I love dark and mysterious even more. I loved how it started out with what was a seemingly ordinary girl, other than the fact she can’t remember the last ten days, she’s caked in mud and her hair is sticky with blood. My favorite part of this story was the connection between the steak she was going to treat herself with when she found her way again and what her actual meal ended up being. It’s little twists like those that make me want to read more."
Thanks Karen!  Also thank you to Cara Michaels for hosting the contest.   And congratulations to honourable mentions Daniel Swenson, Quil Shiv, and H. L. Pauff and to the "judge's pet" Mark Ethridge.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Trekking with the Next Generation

How important is it to see in theatres something I have watched countless times on television? I can close my eyes and picture the scenes in my head.  In fact I have. As a kid I would invent new episodes, played in my mind for my own amusement.  Of course, none of these were in high definition; none of these were on the big screen.

How important? Very.  Important enough for me to cancel all my other Monday commitments.  Important enough to do laundry for the specific purpose of washing my Star Trek shirt.  But, for some reason, not important enough to enlist the help of a babysitter.  Yes, I made the mistake of bringing my children. To be fair, I wanted them to come.  I wanted to share this thing I love with them.  I wanted my offspring to experience the awesomeness that is Star Trek.

The show began with a behind the scenes look at how the show was remastered, how they had to go through warehouses of film footage to find the scenes needed to recut the show.  I drank it all in, while William whispered "When's the show actually going to start?"

William seemed interested in the first episode, watching wide-eyed as the Enterprise sped to the edge of the universe, pointing out the Traveler's chubby fingers. Though while the second episode played he was preoccupied with his "hunger".  Adam eventually bought the kids some candy, and William pouted because this was rationed, and we didn't let them have the entire bag.

Jadzia didn't even pretend to pay attention.  Though she was quite good at pretending to be a cat.  She also spent a great deal of time fiddling with her broken arm rest, hunting for bits of stale popcorn on the floor, and finding creative ways to position herself in her seat.  She had three bathroom breaks during the show.  Her brother had one.  My husband and I took turns escorting.

William wore light up sandles, which bathed the theatre in flickering light whenever he kicked the chair.  I took them off, but we kept accidentally jostling them anyway.  And, of course, he needed to put them on to visit the washroom.

I've seen the show enough times that I wasn't worried about catching plot points, though during one washroom break I missed most of the completely redone 3D rendering of the crystalline entity. Also I got pee on my Star Trek shirt.

If you've ever been annoyed by young children in the theatre, take solace in knowing that they are annoying their parents 100 times more.  And sadly, I now have to spend $700 buying the complete Next Generation series remastered on blu-ray.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'd rather dream about the circus

Last night I dreamt that my family and I were preparing for the funeral of my grandfather. In reality, both my grandfathers died quite some time ago, but I believe this was for my grandfather on my Dad's side, who died when I was five.  In the dream, my Dad asked my Nana "how are you holding up?" I don't recall her response.

Anyway we were in a house that had the same layout as my parents' house but the decor was different. In each room, there were family members getting ready.  My Omi was there, alive and with all her faculties intact, and I believe my sister was too.  The rest were women who I accepted as cousins in my dream, but I don't think I know them in real life.

I spent a lot of time trying to puzzle out the layout of the house, trying to figure out which room was my room, where I could find my clothes. When I couldn't, I rummaged through my diaper bag looking through Jadzia's extra outfits, until I found a top that would fit me. It was a white ruffle top with violets on it.  My cousins encouraged me to try it on in the washroom.

I got the top on and looked in the mirror. Only instead of ruffles, I was wearing some kind of armored chest plate, which fastened at the back. I knew that the pretty top was somehow under the armor and spent the rest of the dream fiddling with a buckle behind my back (which may or may not have been padlocked).

This is the second time this week I've dreamt about death.  A few days ago I had a dream that kept me up most of the night.  My Mom called and told me she was dying and was hoping I would come over and say goodbye.  At the same time my Dad burst into my bedroom all teary eyed and told me that I had better go be with my mother.  I was trying to wake up in my dream, succeeded in waking myself up for real, and had trouble getting back to sleep.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Circus Afro

So William has been wanting to go to the circus ever since he saw the preview of Madagascar 3, which involved a Chris-Rock-voiced zebra dressed in clown make-up and singing about his circus afro. Today my ever-resourceful husband found two for one tickets to the Shriner Circus.

We crossed a field from the parking lot to an impressively large and colourful tent. I bought a program and got some clowns to autograph it.  A booth outside the entrance sold used action figures and stuffies.  William chose a batman and Jadzia a stuffed dog.  Adam bought the Hulk.  There was no Wonder Woman.

Once inside the sweaty tent we chose seats in the front row, partially obscured by a support pillar. The kids were "hungry" so Adam bought them a popcorn and a snowcone to share. Later, he also bought them some large annoying balloons which they swung in the faces of their fellow spectators.  Every treat left them wanting the next.   There were so many things that we didn't partake in, cotton candy, light up swords, Dora balloons, face painting, elephant rides.

The show itself was good.  It had all the things you'd expect and want from a circus: trapeze artists, clowns, various trained animals.  I enjoyed the guys who did flips through the air off this giant seesaw thing. Also the elephants. Jadzia had to leave to use the port-a-potty twice during the performance.

The allergy pill I took left me exhausted and the heat didn't help, nor the whining, but all in all I'd call this a successful family outing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Canoodling in the Tulips

So yesterday I entered the Tuesday Tales contest over at Glitterword, a weekly flash fiction contest based on a couple prompts.  The prompts were the above photo and the word 'canoodle'. Now I don't typically write poetry, but the combination of tulips and canoodling just begged to be made into rhyming verse.

Well I won!  I get to display this badge on my blog:
I'll also be judging the contest in two weeks which should be a prestigious addition to my writing resumé. It was a bit of a challenge getting the right number of words and the right number of syllables (still not sure about the rhythm of the last verse), but I got it to exactly 100 words. Boo ya!  Without further ado, here it is:

Canoodling in the Tulips
by J M Filipowicz

Darling I love canoodling in the tulips
The sunshine is warm and the ground’s not too hard
Dewy and moist and caressed by your two lips
Canoodling in tulips in the neighbour’s yard.

They’ll never catch us hidden in the tulips
Canoodling gently without making a peep
They might catch a glimpse of your hips or my hips
And they’ll think through the weeds a creature does creep.

Exhausted then canoodling in the tulips
We’ll fall fast asleep ‘cause the ground isn’t hard
Awake in the night we’ll crawl through the tulips
And climb the fence naked into our backyard.

Thanks @theglitterlady for hosting the contest each week and @AngeliqueRider for judging. And congrats to honourable mentions: @KelseyPotter13, and @Rowanwolf66.

I know some of you might be imagining that my poem is based on personal experience (I'm talking to you, Columbia).  Rather than confirm or deny anything, I shall leave you with this winky face.  ;)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The ice cream man cometh

We were just clearing the dinner table when we heard the tinkling melody that signals the approach of the ice cream truck. My children begged and even though we've been trying to eat healthy, and even though a couple years ago the ice cream man served us rancid chocolate, I barely hesitated.  The ice cream truck is a part of summer, a part of childhood.  The frozen yogurt and homemade popsicles in our freezer are pale substitutions.

My children donned their shoes faster than they ever had in the history of their lives, I grabbed my purse and we headed out the door.  My wallet had cash in it, unlike every other day, proving that this was fate, destiny.  We were meant to have ice cream today!  Unfortunately, the ice cream truck was already driving down the street.

My son booted it down the street until he was a fleck in the distance.  Still he couldn't outrun a moving vehicle (surprisingly).  When I called him back, he promptly sat down in the grass and burst into tears. When my daughter and I caught up, we gave him hugs and I lamely offered the aforementioned frozen yogurt.

Just then we heard the truck again.  It was around the block, on a street parallel to our own.  We were only a few paces away from an alleyway connecting the two streets.  William and I wanted to run, but Jadzia was being slow.  At some point during this adventure she peed her pants, which slowed her down while decreasing my desire to carry her.

The walk through the alley was agonizingly slow and that repetitive melody taunted us.  Finally, we reached the next street and saw the ice cream truck parked just around a bend. I told William to run ahead and make him wait. This time the truck stayed put.

I wasn't going to order myself a cone when the ice cream truck was parked in front of my house, but at this point I felt I had earned it.  All three of us enjoyed a small soft serve.  William's rainbow sprinkled, mine chocolate sprinkled, Jadzia's cherry dipped.  We took our time walking home, savoring the sweet taste of success.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Happy Canada Day

I just got home from the Canada Day fireworks.  We met up with some friends, with kids who have known my kids since infancy and marched down the street singing Happy Birthday to Canada.  When we got to the park we laid out our blankets and were joined by more friends, and my parents.  It was past the children's bedtimes but they stayed awake by eating oranges and popcorn, wrestling and giggling together, and dancing to Ashley MacIsaac's enthusiastic fiddle-playing.

When the fiddling was done, we stood up as a woman in a red dress came on stage and sang O Canada.  The end of the anthem was punctuated by the first fireworks.  Every colourful explosion was followed by squeals of "more! more!"  The display was just as gorgeous as my husband's fancy dancy photo would have you believe.

On the walk back to the car, we glanced across the lake and saw another fireworks display in the distance. Dispite their exhaustion, and in fact because of it, the kids attempted to climb a fence to get a closer look. By the time we had had our hugs, said our goodbyes, and brought our tired children home to bed, it was almost July 2nd.

Just enough time to post a blog before the stroke of midnight. Good night, Canada.  Happy Birthday.

Update: Our group made the Burlington Post Canada Day slideshow.  Check out #22, #28 and #35.
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