Monthly Archives: January 2018


16 Jan

Being Extra Special

Posted by on January 16, 2018 at 7:38 pm

Our vintage dancing group was asked to provide the historical background for a Studio C skit last summer as extras decked out in our own handmade Regency robes. This skit, “One Last Dance,” aired in November. Being involved in a production like this was an interesting experience- both in good and bad ways. We learned a few things about the film industry; the adjective “ridiculous” applies to many of those discoveries:

Like most members of our dance group, I did my own hair for the shoot. I still got some time in the make-up chair though.

Like most members of our dance group, I did my own hair for the shoot. I still got some time in the make-up chair though.

  1. The film industry takes hierarchies to ridiculous heights. The chain of command is long and inflexible. During our filming, the director would pass his instructions onto the assistant director. The assistant director would belt them out to the group. A background director was the only one that spoke to us, the lowly extras, directly. Even the meals were hierarchical. We weren’t allowed to eat lunch with the rest of the crew even though they had plenty Mediterranean fare to spare. Instead, we got to munch cold pizza by ourselves in another building. Maybe that’s normal for the film industry, but it felt pretty ridiculous to us.
  2. Filming is hot. Literally, hot. Cast and crew members are crammed together while bright lights blast them. It’s not overly comfortable.
  3. Filming gets foggy. Fog machines spewed out haze endlessly during our shoot. This was to give the setting a dreamy effect, or so we were told. It made me feel like I was in a gambling hall rather than a dancing hall.
  4. Filming takes a lot of people, most of which are never on camera. Our set was packed with crew doing all sorts of things with ladders, cords, lighting, cameras, wardrobes, and makeup. Plus, a whole lot of people sat around watching screens the whole time. To be honest, I have no idea what they were all watching for.
  5. It takes a ridiculous amount of time to shoot scenes over and over from every possible angle. The filming of this 2:55 skit took over 13 hours. Every second of material required almost five minutes of production time. Wow! That seems pretty inefficient to me, but compared to industry norms, maybe it’s amazingly productive.
Cords and crew littered the set.

Cords and crew littered the set.

The main cast members were brought water and lip gloss every few minutes.

The main cast members were brought water and lip gloss every few minutes.

Although this was a fascinating educational experience, I don’t think Jason and I would be too eager to stand around fanning ourselves in a stuffy, smoke-filled room for hours and hours again. This may have been our first and last dance with Studio C.

This was the only time the main director talked to us extras.

This was the only time the main director talked to us extras.

If you’d like to see how expertly we portray ball attendees from the Regency period that believe the alphabet is the most exquisite conversation topic imaginable, I’ve included a link to the correct Studio C episode. Our skit starts about 12 minutes in. You may notice that I wondrously appear on both sides of the room at the same time; that miraculous maneuver meant I didn’t get a break like almost everyone else did.

9 Jan

The Good, the bad, and the Nerdy

Posted by on January 9, 2018 at 3:38 pm

In September, we again welcomed the nerdery that is Salt Lake Comic Con like Klingons embrace an honorable death. Not everything is fantastic about comic conventions; here’s a rundown of what makes these events awesome and awful.

You make instant connections with fellow fans at cons.

You make instant connections with fellow fans at cons.

The Good

My favorite thing about SLCC remains catching up with friends and discussing convention occurrences with them over meals. We had dinner with two different groups during SLCC this time and thoroughly enjoyed both.

We ate dinner with the Rowleys during the convention and caught up on their fantastic fanatic experiences.

We ate dinner with the Rowleys during the convention and caught up on their fantastic fanatic experiences.

The Bad

SLCC, like other cons, suffers a bit from the-more-the-merrier and profits-at-all-costs syndromes. The Grand Nagus would be proud. The organizers and vendors want every line packed. Longer lines = more money. Photo shoots with stars often feel more like cattle chutes; these affairs are always oversold, and there is a constant push to shove people through as quickly as possible. Although some celebrities want to have a little extra time to interact with fans during photos, they too seem pressured to hurry. (I’ve actually witnessed impatient photographers tapping their toes at stars when those stars have taken a few extra seconds to talk to someone.) I’m sure the pursuit of high profits over pleasant experiences is common to every con; I think these conventions could find a better balance between the two.

John Barrowman and Catherine Tate made each of their pictures unique.

John Barrowman and Catherine Tate made each of their pictures unique.

The Nerdy

On our first day at SLCC, we went to the Jewel Staite, Thomas F. Wilson and Christopher Lloyd, and Joan and John Cusack panels. All of these sessions were entertaining. Joan Cusack was as eccentric as expected, and Tom Wilson was much funnier than expected.

Meeting Firefly cast members is always a pleasure.

Meeting Firefly cast members is always a pleasure.

The next day, we went to Catherine Tate’s and John Barrowman’s panels. They were fantastic, and our seats on the fourth row made them even better. Without ruining all of John’s panel surprises, let me just say that Wonder Man appreciates the underside of kilts.

A local fan lovingly made this vintage TARDIS set.

A local fan lovingly made this vintage TARDIS set.

That evening, we experienced Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog in a con setting for the first time. Good thing I know all the words and neighs! Jason even participated in the singing along, for good or for horrible.

Joan Cusack was quirky and kind.

Joan Cusack was quirky and kind.

We didn’t go cuckoo for celebrity pictures or autographs this time; we’ve found that too many of those make cons obnoxiously packed. We did take a couple photos, however, and got autographs from the likes of John and Joan Cusack, Tom Wilson, Jewel Staite, and Catherine Tate.

I've gotten some ink and glue done a couple times at Salt Lake Comic Con.

I’ve gotten some ink and glue done a couple times at Salt Lake Comic Con.

Comic cons are not perfect. They test patience and politeness. Plus, they make one feel a little like a walking dollar symbol in a cosplay outfit. Yet, the memorable interactions with friends, fans, and the famous at these events usually make the waits and crowds acceptable. Best of all, these cons make being nerdy more socially acceptable.

2 Jan

Pottery, Archery, and Piracy

Posted by on January 2, 2018 at 1:03 pm

Sometimes life doesn’t turn out exactly as imagined. Some events aren’t as dramatic or romantic as anticipated while others are more remarkable than expected. Here are a few of our fall experiences that proceeded as predicted or as unpredicted.

Activity: The Cannon Ball

Expectation: Awesome

Reality: Awesome

It’s impossible for a steampunk pirate ball with vintage dancing not to live up to expectations.

I wouldn't actually make a good pirate; plundering goes against my core values.

I wouldn’t actually make a good pirate; plundering goes against my core values.

Activity: Archery Tag

Expectation: Fun and Energetic

Reality: Fun and Tragic

We invited everyone in my family to play archery tag with us one evening, including all our nieces and nephews. I learned a few things about myself and the world during this strung-out activity. It turns out, my family as a conglomerate isn’t particularly skilled with bows. We lost most of our games against another family consortium.

Our tag team was rather ragtag.

Our tag team was rather ragtag.

You know those wrist guards that Legolas wears? Well, I guess they are for more than just elven frills. Midway through our tag session, I wacked myself with my bowstring while shooting. It hurt, and I instantly grew a goose egg on my forearm that looked ready to hatch. A few days later, half my arm turned a sickly shade of green. My Dad walked away from the affair with a similar limb wound.

With a few insignificant differences, I am remarkably like the heroically-flawed figures of myth. Eons ago, an arrow hit Achilles’ foot, his weak point, and everything fell apart. Playing archery tag, an arrow hit my foot, my weak spot, and everything fell apart. (Sure, I didn’t slay Hector, and I wasn’t exactly a champion of the Trojan War, but I’d say those are pretty insignificant differences.) Just minutes before our time in the arena was up, a guy on the opposing team saw my foot sticking out from behind a barrier and decided to target it. This wasn’t just any of my two feet though, it was the foot I had tendon surgery on years ago. His arrow flew, hit that surgery spot spot-on, and hurt me like hell. (Sorry, I can’t edit that last comment; the pain was too real for censoring.) Jason heard a loud smack and then a wretched scream. Play stopped, and I hobbled off the field. I held back my tears though; I’m tough in my flimsiness like that. My ankle swelled up so badly I had to elevate and ice it that night. I could barely walk for a couple days, and I couldn’t run for a week and a half. D#mn puniest point!

My ankle inflated after getting shot.

My ankle inflated after getting shot.

Activity: Wheel-Thrown Pottery

Expectation: Ghost

Reality: Course and Clumsy

It's really easy to misalign your clay blob and form a wobbly mess.

It’s really easy to misalign your clay blob and form a wobbly mess.

As a gift to Jason, I purchased a month of wheel-thrown-pottery classes for the two of us. He envisioned a Ghost-esque experience, but it ended up being more like a 2nd-grade art class. You know, making misshapen blobs that only your mother could pretend to love. At least that’s what Jason would tell you, but I was pretty pleased with our creations. I enjoyed the classes enough that I signed up for another month of them with my mom. She and I had a great time working clay and forming rookie pieces together.

Despite Jason's protestations, most of our pottery pieces turned out satisfactorily.

Despite Jason’s protestations, most of our pottery pieces turned out satisfactorily.

After another month of pottery lessons, the quality of my creations... stayed about the same.

After another month of pottery lessons, the quality of my creations… stayed about the same.

Life isn’t terribly predictable. Excitement and drama don’t always pop up in the places we envision. Yet, pop up they do.