… thoughts on theatre, life, and stuff

9-11 Personal Reflections

Today is September 11, 2011.  On September 11, 2001 I woke to my news radio alarm, switched on live TV, and watched the second plane hit, the second tower fall, then the first.  By the end of the morning, my heart was rubble. All those families.  All that loss and destruction.  The “It could never happen here” bubble had burst and what was left was dust. debris. DNA.

When a nation grieves together, it changes us. But there is one thing that hasn’t changed.  Because in all that chaos, God was  protecting some, infusing others with unshakable courage, drawing others to himself.  Letting others go.

This morning, I woke to my news radio alarm, but instead of the sounds of disbelief, speculation and fear, I’m listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing God Bless America and Ray Charles sing “America the Beautiful” played as a tribute to the lives lost.

This morning, I’m thinking about New York City.  About Broadway, and Chinatown, and Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the irrepressible energy that is Manhattan.  So, seeking some inspiration FROM New York during a day that is so much ABOUT New York, I decided to focus my attention on this poem of hope and welcome.

New Colossus (The poem in the base of the Statue of Liberty)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”    – Emma Lazarus


Oops. <snicker>

I play a Comic Host in Rush Hour, the RMCC family worship experience, but I also work for the Creative Arts Director doing various RH tasks like editing scripts, making props and costumes as needed, stuff like that.

Soooo, I recently revamped a script for Rush Hour and well… first maybe I should explain the way I write…  I let my mind imagine a scene playing out.  I WATCH the scene in my head and just write down what I see and hear.

When I recently edited in an Einstein-type character, the voice I imagined in my head had an exaggerated German accent. Here’s what the actor actually needed to say…

COMIC HOST:  We ask that the Bible Bowlers* let everyone else catch up. Don’t blurt out answers to the questions OK?  That wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the people who are not yet Bible experts.

THIS, however, is the way I transcribed the scene in the script:

COMIC HOST: (German accent) Unt NOW! Vee gunna ask dat ze Bible Bowlahs let ze rrrest of de beoples catchen-zee up vis you, unt you don’t anzer ze qvetions too early. Dat vill not be fay-ah for ze rrrrest of ze beoples who are not expertz YET in ze Bibluuuuhl, Yah!

NOTE TO SELF:  If you don’t want the OTHER Comic Host at our sister campus (who uses this same script) to push you in the dirt… next time, just use plain English… he can add the accent.

 errr, I mean, I’m sorry Brian. That must have been nearly impossible to read. Seriously, Dude.   Please forgive me.    hugs, V-

PS.  Dear Co-Host Dawn, I’m sorry that onstage I kept calling you “Helga” all morning.  OK.   No.  I’m not.  not.  really.  sorry.  Because it was funny and it’s even funnier knowing your enitre family will be calling you Helga for weeks and weeks now and in fact you may never live this one down and every time I think about it I start laughing again and… …I’m not worried about you pushing me in the dirt because I’m not sure you could catch me and there I’ve said it out loud now well sort of because I’m not really talking I’m typing but just the same whatever and I’m pretty sure there’s nothing you can do about it now anyway because it’s water under the bridge and you have to be nice to me because we’re Christians and I’m pretty sure God will strike you with lightening if you seek revenge and that’s pretty much all I have to say about that. Mwahahahahaha!!! er… I mean… hugs,  v-

*We have a youth team that competes nationally with their Bible skills and knowledge.  These guys are nationally ranked and have some SERIOUS skills when it comes to the Bible.  Check ’em out here.

Court Jester’s Hat

The Jester's Hat

An upcoming RUSH HOUR script calls for one of the characters to wear a Jester’s hat.  So I came up with this.

I found some great fabric earlier this summer at … where else? WALLY WORLD!  I think I picked up about a yard each of four different designs.  I used a needle and thread, fabric, hot glue, glue gun, shredded paper, poster board, pom poms, my iron and sewing machine.

Here’s the how-to…

These are the basic fabric pieces needed for the "horns." Cut 4 from one fabric, and 4 from a contrasting fabric.

With right sides together, and LEAVING THE BOTTOM OPEN, I sewed the horns. I clipped the curves so they would look nice when I turned them right-side-out.

I stuffed the horns with shredded paper. I don't ever expect to need to wash this hat, if I did, I would have to use cotton batting, or poly-fill as a stuffing. Shredded paper is cheaper. 🙂

Sewed two contrasting "horns" together into two pair of horns.

And the two ...

... shall become as one.

Traditionally, there would be bells on the points of the horns, but as an actor, I CANNOT STAND a costume that makes noise I cannot directly control 100% of the time, so I went with hot-gluing some pom-poms on instead.

I added more pom-poms to add silly-ness and to cover the hand-stiched seams.

I cut out fabric to make a hood. Notice a hood pattern that will have long flaps to tie under the neck or behind the head is shaped like half a heart shape.

right sides together, stitch the hood across the crown of the head, leaving about an inch at the "forehead" and a good long open bit at the back of the head. That will 1) make the hood easier to hem, and 2) create "flaps" that can be tied under the chin like a scarf or around the back of the head like a "dew rag" to hold it steady.

Hem the hood. I like to iron in a hem and then zig-zag stich it. These will be used infrequently and don't have to stand up to much abuse, so I can cut corners on the sewing and save buckets of time.

All along, I kept trying things on, removing stitching, adjusting the angles and fit, etc.

Stitch the horns to the hood at the points indicated. I hot glued the center of the horns to the hood, so there was no need to stitch around the entire crown of the head. Just securing it firmly with stitching in four places was enough.

So far so good. Still need to add the crown. Here it is tied like a scarf below the chin.

And here's the same thing tied at the back of the head like a 'dew rag." It's still looking a little Carmen Miranda, though, gotta add the crown.

I covered some posterboard with cloth (remember, this will never be laundered, or I would have had to use very heavy interfacing instead. I attached this to the piece (it can be sewn) and voila!


Fun project.  The more outlandish the fabric the better I think.  I have to go now, you should SEE the mess in my kitchen!  And it’s time to “rinse and repeat” because I need another one because our church has two campuses.

 Whoah!  I just realized I didn’t ever publish this entry.  Well, here ‘tiz then!
The “Prayer Machine”  a.k.a. the “Schpeaking Dirrrrrectly to God Machine Thingy-Dingy”

The Prayer Machine

Last Season,  “V” and Donna, (a couple of our comic co-hosts) had to sit in a “prayer machine.”   I play “V”, my bff is Donna – and yes, I do realize that I was just speaking about myself in the third person… but I think it’s ok, since mental stability is not a pre-requisite for being a comic host.

We were going for a “Horton Hears a Who” look here.

The Who's make such lovely machines!

Anyway, I used a folding chair, some silver duct tape (sharp edges! sharp!), some plastic tubing, some clothes dryer venting tubing, some Christmas lights, an oscillating fan, a little pvc,  some aluminum foil roasting pans, and various other miscellaneous stuff I found at the local hardware/home improvement store.

If you look carefully, you’ll see a plastic cup we covered in silver duct tape and attached to the end of the flexible tubing.  In this photo, it is tucked out of the way, but it was easy to grab and hold up to my face or ears like a megaphone or listening device.  Here are the pics.

That oversized calculator was less than $5 at Hobby Lobby, btw.

Srry for the poor qual photo.

Wait! This guy wasn't part of the machine. This is Max. Max likes to help. Max also likes to get in my way at photo time.

If I tried to explain how we did this in detail, my head would explode.  It was easy, though, and very light-weight.  When the oscillating fan “radar dish” was separated, I was able to easily carry one of these by myself.    🙂



Placemat Jacket How-to

Well, this was an interesting project!  The script called for a coat made from the month’s giveaway which were some paper placemats.  I first ironed the paper to some very lightweight interfacing to keep the paper from tearing as I worked with it.  I tried sewing it, but wound up using good old duct tape to hold it together and to outline and emphasize some features like pockets.  My  fellow RH co-host Donna was my model.  🙂

Hot glue, a few buttons, and a magic marker helped add some detail.

After sewing the sleeves on and turning it right-side-out, the interfacing began to tear between the placemats. PLAN B! GET THE DUCT TAPE!

The finished product

Ironing the placemats to some iron-on interfacing

It was pretty flimsy with just the lightweight interfacing to hold it together, so Donna and I re-inforced it with good ole duct tape.

By connecting several of the mats together to make "fabric", I cut out pieces to sew together for the jacket.

Aladdin Pics

Aladdin 2010

Here are some pics of the revamped Aladdin costume from the Fredrick holiday open house this year.  The best part is not the way the camel looks, it’s the way the people around him are reacting that is so much fun. 

I’d like to resculpt the body shape and match the leg fabric to the body, but sigh…. maybe next year.


hugs, v-

WATCH OUT! (they spit!)

Are you kidding me?  I haven’t posted since November 10th and here it is a few days before Christmas!?  Wow, it’s been busy around here.  I’m not much on sending Christmas cards… I buy them every year and never get around to sending them.  So, here’s my version of that sappy letter – only so much happened this last year, it’s too much to talk about, so I’ll just talk about the last couple of weeks.  LOL!

Sight seeing at the Pyramids near Cairo

A few years ago, hubbie Ted and I decided we were empty nesters and wanted a smaller house.  Well, this year we changed our minds and spent most of November packing and moved into our new home just before Thanksgiving.  The DAY before Thanksgiving in fact.  But do you think a little thing like that would stop us from hosting a family gathering for Thanksgiving?  NO WAY!!!  We had special friends and family get-togethers on both Thursday and Friday to christen the new house with the sound of laughter, and praise, and football of course! 

I revamped “Aladdin the Camel” this year.  If you read the series I did on how he was constructed, you’ll know I never liked the way his neck was connected to his body.  So I redid that this year. I didn’t get to actually see the new design in action (Except when I co-erced my bff Donna to leave her sick-bed and drive all the way to my house to try it on! – Thanks D!)   Sooooo, if you went to the Fredrick Open House where Aladdin made his appearance this year, please send me a picture, and I’ll post them here. 

I was also blessed to sit in on the final rehearsals for “Reel to Reel,” the Niwot Campus Christmas presentation hosted by the RMCC Choir, Orchestra, and fabulously talented Tech team.  The concept was brilliant, brilliant I tell you.  🙂  Directed and written by Phil Christian, it featured movie night for Gordo and Grandpa Henry.  Gordo had invented a machine that played video clips from Christmas movies that matched your mood.  It was heart-warming and our two actors Dwight R. and Randy H.  gave wonderful performances. 

The Sphinx. I must have taken a million photos of this guy.

Then it was off to Cairo, Egypt for 9 days!  The PYRAMIDS PEOPLE!!!!!  THE SPHINX!!!  And a loud call to prayer outside my window every morning around 5am.  I made some new friends and saw some incredible sights.  I also came home with a serious cough (if you know my history with pneumonia, you’ll get why that is NOT a good thing)  and a mild case of Tut’s revenge.  But I have scrambled over the stones of the Great Pyramid of Giza, and have touched the beard of the Sphinx (ok, it was a piece of the beard that was a reconstruction of the sphinx and it was in a museum, but STILL!! that means I touched a thing that touched the Sphinx) .  And I visited the artifacts of King Tutankhamun (King Tut).  I had seen many of his artifacts in Chicago when I was a teenager, so it was like visiting an old friend.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to.  Twelve crazy taxi’s, eleven street kids hawking, ten camels spitting, nine days in Egypt, eight cough suppressants, seven dust storms dusting, six palm trees swaying, five golden kings (eerrrr, pharaohs I mean) …. four calling mosques, three Coptic churches, Two tour guides, and a life time of memories.

And it’s good to be home to celebrate Christmas. 

 Merry Christmas, everyone. 

hugs, V-

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