Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Favorite Muffin Recipe

You're getting this post because I wanted to share with the internet a recipe I've been using since I was 13. These muffins were the very first thing I ever learned to cook in 7th grade Home Economics. I don't know that there has been a single Thanksgiving since where I didn't bake them - either with my family growing up, the San Francisco gang that would have Christmas together, or with Travis and our Austin friends. Very simple. Just about perfect.

Pumpkin Muffins


Ingredients

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mashed pumpkin (I use pie filling)
4 tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Beat egg, mix with milk, pumpkin, and butter. Mix dry ingredients separately, then add the wet ingredients. Drop batter into muffin cups by the 1/4-cup full. Bake in muffin pan for 18-20 minutes.


(I actually double this recipe every year, so I can't really say how many muffins this makes but doubling it will get you at least 12 muffins, definitely more but right now I'm not sure how much more. Also, when putting them in the oven I sprinkle turbinado sugar on top. Serve with soft butter, I prefer salted butter for this.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Selkie: Process

It's been over two weeks since DVT's latest incarnation of the Selkie opera performed in Houston and I'm just now sitting down to write about the experience. This project started last January with an installation/opera piece at the Creative Research Lab in Austin. Between January and November it grew significantly into a wholly original piece of work created by several amazing artists.

I arrived in Houston on Friday, October 29 with my giant iMac, brought to facilitate creating and editing of video material used in the production. In just the week that I was there, the amount of video content in the show almost doubled and then was cut down to less than what we had thought it would be. I was reminded of a professor telling a class that I was in that design was in large part about how often you are willing to redo something - definitely true of our work on this production. Originally I had planned on using two projectors, one on the set/installation pieces created by David Brown and another on the gorgeous wood plank wall in Obsidian Arts Space. As we moved forward, we actually added a third projector creating a keystoned image on the floor. Three projectors. There's a picture of me out there running the light board and three laptops - I look...busy. Once we saw all the projections and David's set, we discussed how much video was actually needed for this piece and eventually cut the floor and back wall projectors, and decided to use the one on the set to add in water textures. This was definitely the right call - the music, costumes and set were all so rich and beautiful that we risked overwhelming them by using too much video.

On Saturday the 30th I caught my first glimpse of the set designed and created by David Brown - three gorgeous columns wrapped in plastic wrap. They reflected light and video beautifully. My friend from grad school, Sarah Mosher, came down from Seattle to design costumes for us. I love working with Sarah and was so happy to have her in this collaboration. She added to the lushness of the piece with gorgeous sea-colored costumes. My days in Houston were filled with video work at Misha and Dave's house and working on the lighting design at Obsidian. Elliot Cole's music was stunning. When we were in rehearsal it was honestly difficult to concentrate on the pieces of the production I was responsible for - the music grabbed my attention and carried me through the one hour opera, and before I knew it we were at the end of rehearsal. Chills.

Monday the 1st - I was at tech in the evening when I got a text message from Travis - I had won an award back in Austin and he was getting up to accept it for me. I honestly wasn't expecting this at all so when I got the text, I of course dropped my phone, had to dig around in the dark to find it. (If you're not aware of my ridiculous need to drop things and trip over other things, it's just seriously bad. Not in a lame Bella Swan kind of way. Just bad, and clumsy, and ridiculous.)

Later I learned that Travis, in his acceptance speech, thanked the right people and then thanked the cats. Then, he thanked Kara Thrace. And THEN thanked David Bowie. If I'm ever in another position where I have to give a speech like that, I"ll just let him do it.

Because Misha is in the opera as well as directing it, she has video to watch from all of our rehearsals. I get any work notes from her the next day while she's poring over the previous night's footage and then take care of them prior to the evening's tech.

Travis and Chris came out to Houston to see the second performance.

I've worked on new work before, created something from the ground up. This time I was left with a very different feeling, pride in what we had done (or begun, since we are still continuing Selkiing), feeling like I was an integral part of this new piece being born.

Next up for me: Returning to the FOREST - aiming to have the second Forest open by December 1. Also, Carousel.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

SL Wanderings.

I now own two pieces of land in SL, one of which is my house, and I've been geeking out on buying furniture for it. The other is the parcel I bought last year to use as a studio / sandbox / playground for all things Eurydice-related. I'm having fun with this again. And I'm a huge nerd.

And also - I've recently started following the SL artist Bryn Oh. Check out some of her work:

The Word for World is Forest.

Tonight I will be destroying (striking? taking down?) our first Forest. I'm actually feeling sad and mournful about it, which I think is part of the point, dealing with loss and destroying in a couple of hours what it took a month to create. I think that we had roughly 10-12 visits (and most visits included a second person) and the feedback we got from the project was so good.

It also constantly amazed me that people talked about their Forest visit like they were remembering childhood. I'm so grateful to have helped create something that inspired people to just play. The process of creating it was like play for me, too. Outside of this project I was dealing with stress, but it all went away when I was there and could lose myself in the world we were creating. That's not a feeling that I get with every project I take on.

Forest #2 is still looking for a home, after which the whole process will start again. If you know of any storage places in Austin willing to donate a climate-controlled space for a couple of months, let me know. Katie is busy saving pelicans affected by the oil spill but will be returning soon to Austin for a little bit. I'm trying to imagine driving a pelican to the vet. I'm trying not to read anything else about what's going on, because even typing that one sentence out made me tear up. Dear World. Deal with reality, or reality will deal with you. Love Megan.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

If you do nothing, it means nothing, and all those wild, wild feelings go to waste.

FORESTS-IN-STORAGE update:

Katie is away until the beginning of July so I'm continuing to work on this project in her absence. I went out this afternoon to talk to several storage places in Austin and to hopefully nail down space for our second Forest. At one place I met with a guy who was really, really excited about the project and who is an artist himself - at another place, I got the response "now I've heard everything."

One thing I noticed while talking to both places is that they very much want to know WHAT you're storing. It's one of the first things (if not THE first thing) they asked. Renting storage space is apparently not like having a Swiss bank account or a safety deposit box. At least next time I'll be prepared to answer that question!

Both places I went to turned out to be nationwide chains. I don't know enough about storage spaces to know that "Public Storage" is not local. Both places have a lot of regulations and people to talk to before they can say that our project is ok (and I have a feeling the second place will just tell me no in a day or two). We totally understand their rules. However. I have to wonder about locally owned businesses - I might have better luck tomorrow if I narrow my search down more to people who might be more flexible or have a greater understanding of the arts community in Austin.

Off to a Machinal post-mortem picnic. I'm getting re-immersed in Second Life, too, and researching and brainstorming about our second Selkie production in Houston this November.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

And other things...

Since graduating with my MFA I've been working as a designer as steadily as someone with a full time "day job" can be. For a couple of reasons I have decided to NOT be teching any shows this summer - I still have projects lined up for the fall, so I'm still working, just not for any show that opens prior to September.

One of the reasons I want to do this is I want to give myself the chance to this summer to focus on a couple of projects that really feed my soul. I'm tempted to say I might not be able to take on ANY more work in 2010, but I know of a couple of projects I would jump on if I'm approached.

For the past couple of months I've been collaborating with Katie Pearl on a project that is an offshoot of a piece she's working on for next year with Lisa D'Amour. That piece is called How To Build A Forest; our project is FORESTS-IN-STORAGE. We're in the process of creating a series of installations around Austin (and outside of Austin, perhaps?) based on the idea of a time when forests need to be kept in storage, and created out of materials on hand and perhaps memory. We've got our first Forest open and have had some awesome feedback on it, and we're in the beginning stages of our second Forest (which involves finding a space for it first - if you have any suggestions of really awesome locally-managed climate-controlled storage units, let me know...I'm betting that "locally-managed" might be friendlier to artists trying to build a forest in their space). This project has been so good to me, and going to work on the Forest has often times felt like therapy. It's the second time this year I've wondered why more theatre designers don't start with a month of just sitting in the space and imagining what could be (please don't respond with telling me WHY we don't do that, I know why we don't do that, I'm just living in a fantasy for the few minutes that I think it would be an awesome way to start a design). We would go there whenever, work separately or together, try things, taken them down, try other things. It was relaxing. It was entirely without pressure or stress.

The website (and central source of information) for the project is http://www.forestsinstorage.com/.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Top Five Favorite LOST Memories

Tomorrow, LOST is all over. I'm so happy it's ending on its own terms - best decision they ever made - but I'm not ready to let go!! Here are the ways I will remember LOST:

1. At the end of season 1, I was working for Cincinnati Opera and staying in company-rented apartments. The week before the finale my television broke. I had to explain just how important it was to the company manager that my TV be replaced BY THAT CERTAIN NIGHT. And it was, and all was well. The last few minutes of season 1 were TERRIFYING. When the light came on on the others' boat, it was so bizarre, something that didn't belong in the show at all, a good sign they had done their jobs. I didn't see Walt's kidnapping coming at all - I don't know if others did, I remember everyone was so obsessed with the hatch and of course, we didn't see what was in the hatch. I was completely satisfied by the way that light on the others' boat frightened me.

2. I was in grad school through the first three seasons. I frequently had other grad students over to watch LOST each week. One of our professors one Wednesday heard us making plans and said, "If you have time to watch LOST, I'm not doing my job." We would have made time to watch LOST regardless of the work load.

3. My 1995 white Toyota has the following bumper stickers: "Not Penny's Boat," a Lookinglass station sign, "Who are we to argue with Taller Ghost Walt?" "see you in another life," and one that is the hieroglyphs we see when the counter runs out. That one is actually due to be replaced, it's almost totally faded. I think I wanted to be known as the girl who had the LOST car. I don't think I took it far enough though.

4. That Facebook thread that grew out of tagging with my friends' names a promo picture for season 6 that had all the current characters in it. 111 comments later I don't think any of us got anything productive done that day. Maybe I'll dig that up and take some screenshots of it.

5. Best LOST memory ever: Travis's vows at our wedding, when he said "I want to be your constant." Also, the audience reaction. Awesome.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fusebox.

Right now the Fusebox Festival is going on here in Austin, one of my absolute favorite things about this town. Sunday night I saw a performance called Everytime I See Your Picture I Cry, by Daniel Barrow. Barrow sat with an overhead projector and a microphone, reading the entire story out loud while shifting and layering transparancies on an overhead projector so that they appeared animated. My jaw dropped the moment he started and I'm pretty sure it stayed that way the whole time. Stunning, stunning, stunning, and easily one of the best pieces of theatre I've ever seen. I am now trolling craigslist for overhead projectors and trying to convince Misha that we can totally use manual overhead projector animation on a project sometime soon.

This weekend I'll be seeing Cloud Eye Control's Under Polaris and every installation anyone will let me in to see for free.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Turn and face the strange

Projects currently in the works:

1. A short performance piece called 20 Years , developed with the ACTLab at UT Austin.

2. A month-long internet-based performance, also developed with the ACTLab, and more information will come as soon as I create it.

3. A mini-collaboration with Katie Pearl as she explores the beginnings of her new project, How to Build a Forest.

4. Designing lights for Machinal with Paper Chairs.

5. Continuation of the Selkie collaboration in Houston later in 2010.

6. Small beginnings of work on Eurydice, and later this year a MAP Grant proposal for future development of that project.

7. Getting to a financial position wherein I can drag Travis up and down the Norwegian coast for two weeks.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Word Cloud.


I love this because it really encompasses what my life is about right now. Poetic and beautiful despite being randomly generated by a web app.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Space between

I'm back in the ACTLab this semester, using my staff education benefit to enroll in the "Death" class. I was in "Dream & Delirium" back in spring of 2007 as a graduate student, this is only my second time there but three years have passed...that's kind of unbelievable.

The ACTLab is a 3 hour class meeting once a week whose discussions revolve around a chosen topic (this topic is death, if you hadn't figured that out). Three times during the semester we are to bring in projects related somehow to that topic. That's basically all the instruction we're given, other than no flame throwers, no epic poetry, and no jumping from one moving train to another. A project can be anything - a piece of art, performance, code, activity...I don't know. Anything. My cat could probably be a project if I could find a compelling reason for it.

We just wrapped up our first projects last week and I chose to use mine to begin some concept work on Eurydice. I think Eurydice is a triptych. First stab at the second part can be seen here.


In other cat related news, this is Asha, the newest member of our family:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just gonna get my feet wet until I drown...

From a post I started writing on 1/16/2010:
"The Selkie Project has been a really organic creative process. Misha shares my lack of concern over not quite knowing what I'm doing, allowing work to exist and breathe and spontaneously become whatever it needs to be in that moment. The intention with The Selkie Project is to experiment on creating a longer operatic piece. We're starting this month with the hybrid installation-performance piece at the Creative Research Lab in Austin, and planning to move onto the next step of the project this spring in Houston. It's a really interesting way to begin creating a theatrical piece. We're creating an environment for something to happen in. The environment itself has evolved and morphed more than once in the past few weeks. We began last weekend by just sitting in the space and imagining what could happen there. I'm trying to imagine what the design process for a more traditional play would look like if we began by sitting in the empty theatre for a couple of hours. By the end of last weekend we had settled on this idea of stenciling the words Misha wrote for the piece in very pale sand and sea colors on the walls. We then quickly learned that stencils of that many words and lines of poetry would cost more than my rent. We moved onto trying to project the text onto the wall and then painting over the words, keeping as close to the font as possible. That idea flew out the window when we discovered that the images of the text weren't of a high enough quality to be that exact. We could either wait to get better images, or we could move on to plan C. Using the projections as a guide, Misha lightly and quickly painted the words onto the wall as if scrawling a letter. The end result was walls that looked like love letters written to a missing lover, stuffed into a bottle and floated on the sea for months - pale, watery, full of longing. It's amazing how even the most spontaneous and unplanned decisions can ring so perfectly true to the "story" you thought you were telling in the first place."

That sentiment pretty much carried throughout the rest of the process. We had ideas and preconceived notions of what would work, only to find in the actual specific SITE they didn't. The choices that ended up in our final performance this past Saturday night were those that were made instinctively; things that we had tried to PLAN weren't as successful. If you want a ball to bounce you gotta let it go, just let it go. Embrace whatever the present moment is telling you to create, and let go of the idea you've been clinging to for two weeks.

The performance at the opening reception went well and was VERY well attended, and we walked away from the experience with a TON of things we didn't know before about our project and how to take it to the next level.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Selkie Project - in the news

I have an entry on process for this project, I swear I do because it's really been a fascinating process, but I haven't found the time to finish it yet. BUT. Misha Penton & I have been hard at work on our upcoming installation / performance hybrid piece, which opens Saturday at the Creative Research Lab in Austin. We've made it into both Houston and Austin papers, write-ups below:

Houston Examiner: Houston's Divergence Vocal Theater launches The Selkie Project in Austin

Austin Chronicle: "Selkie Project:" Comfortable in their Skins

With your feet in the air and your head on the ground.

Saturday morning I flew to London. I saw a piece of immersive theatre twice, with an hour break in between. Same show. And in the evening I ...