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San Jac Central: Young Frankenstein the Musical

February 13, 2014

imagesGuess what’s opening next Wednesday?  The truly fabulous, awesome, wonderful production of Young Frankenstein the Musical at San Jacinto College Central in Pasadena, TX!  For this one, I am the music director, and I can personally guarantee that anyone who comes to this show will have a great deal of fun.  The shows are Feb. 19,20,21,and 22 at 7:30 and Feb 23 at 2:30… granted, you’ll want to be there at least a half an hour early to get your tickets and get settled.  The price is $15 for general admission, and I’ve been told the proceeds go to fund student scholarships.  Cool, huh?  A great show and for a good cause.  Come on down and be prepared to laugh out loud and leave the theatre humming some truly ridiculous and awesome tunes.  Woohoo!  Mel Brooks + Musical = Greater Than the Sum of It’s Parts.  Trust me on this.  -E.G.D.


December 24, 2013


Happy holidays, everyone!  Is it just me, or have these cards gotten progressively stranger over the years?  This year’s card was made with a pencil, a sharpie, a piece of computer paper, a scanner, the GIMP 2.0, and a bit of digital photo collage (with some of my own images and some images from Wikimedia Commons).

It has been a down-the-rabbit-hole sort of year for me, let me tell you!  I was bit by a dead shark on stage at the Johnson Space Center (yes, NASA’s “Houston”) and had to be treated for nerve damage in my right hand (don’t worry, I got better!).  I performed more than 100 times for Mad Science of Houston (once on television), I was in a dinner-theatre musical at the Houston Hobby Center (right in the heart of the theatre district), I made about a billion beverages working at Starbucks and Teavana, and just in the past couple weeks I was offered adjunct positions at both San Jacinto College Central and Lone Star College Atascocita Center.  My life has been absolute chaos recently, as I scramble to finish all the crazy hiring paperwork at the two colleges, write a syllabus for Intro. to Theatre, and prepare for auditions (I am slated to be the music director for San Jacinto’s production of Young Frankenstein the Musical, and I have been asked to teach the people auditioning a selection… sort of borrowing the format of a dance audition).  In completely different news, Trafficking in Magic/Magicking in Traffic, an anthology in which my poem “Roadseller’s Trade” is the very first piece the reader sees, is set to be released in May, and I am determined to get Kinlea Keeper and Curse back into print before then so that people who like the poem may wander by my website and buy the books.  Also, over the past month I have slowly moved to an apartment in the middle of town, though my bed, sofa, and sewing table are all still at my sister’s house until Friday, when I’ve scheduled a U-Haul rental.  Aaaaaaaaaanyhow, many, many thanks to all of you who have supported my many endeavors this year (and in past years!  The application I just signed at SJC was submitted to them in the winter of 2011).  I couldn’t have done it without you ^_^.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!  -E.G.D.

The Fulshear Dragon Riders’ Guild

October 23, 2013

Well, I did it again.  I went crazy designing and constructing costumes for the Texas Renaissance Festival.  This year, the group (my elder sister, my niece, my nephew, a friend, and myself) went as the Fulshear Dragon Riders’ Guild. Back when I started the design phase, I asked each person, “if you were a dragon rider, what would your job be?”  As for me, I said I would “drive” the dragon ambulance and be, basically, a fantasy Renaissance first-responder.  This is the costume I made myself:

Photos by F. Travis Riley.  Costume by E.G.D.

Photos by F. Travis Riley. Costume by E.G.D.

As you can see, due to the nature of my dragon rider job, I have quite a lot of storage associated with my costume.  I actually had a wooden box (that I stained by hand with tea, incidentally) that contained a full sewing kit and first aid kit, which I tucked into the burgundy pouch on my belt along with a hand-sewn wallet fashioned from the same fake-black-alligator pattern fabric as the front of my costume vest and my secondary belt pouch.  The boot-daggers I embellished by hand, as I did with all the weapons for last year’s Ren Fest.  This costume’s daggers are not really weapons as such, but are more intended as tools in case I need to cut a person in need free from a stirrup or some-such obstruction. The large bag was a super-last-minute addition I crafted the night before… when I realized I didn’t have any suitably sized bag for my rather large camera or for the fake-fur half-cape I made for evening outer-wear (and oh, it did get awfully chilly! I was glad I made that cape… though I just realized I didn’t take any pictures in the late evening when I was wearing it…).  In any case, the end result of my excessive accessorizing was that I was ready to save the day, keep myself warm, take pictures, and stow away purchases with ease and comfort.  This is among the most comfortable costumes I think I have ever made for myself.

Moving on, though, my friend Travis said that he would be a long-distance courier, because it would be an excuse to travel and an excuse to not work very hard.  This is what I came up with for him:

Photos and costume by E.G.D.

Photos and costume by E.G.D.

I made the sash buckle by hand out of an epoxy jewelry clay and silver-finish fleur-de-lis buttons.  He bought the boots from a cobbler at the actual Ren Fest, incidentally, and I think they made for a quite classy finishing touch!  The chain on his wrist held his guild issued dragon riding license (a metal signet-seal monogram of the first letter of his last name.  We each had one, though the other four of us wore ours as necklaces).

My nephew Liam said that he would be the dragon riding equivalent of the bookmobile.  “My dragon likes to read, and we’re librarians,” he told me, so this was his costume:


As you can see, he had a sizable book bag.  His vest is the boy version of the one I designed for myself, and the book bag actually contains a knee-length, hunter-green, wool-and-polyester felt cloak I made him for evening outerwear.  To my mild chagrin, he didn’t wear the cloak, even when it got cold in the evening, so even if I had bothered to take pictures of us all that night, I wouldn’t have a proper picture of it 0_o.  I made the straps of the book bag so that they could double in length with the adjustment of four buttons, because I assumed he’d get sick of lugging stuff around and we adults would have to carry it, but he really did carry it around for most of the day all by himself.  The cape I made his sister is in the bag, too, as he kindly agreed to carry it for her.

When I asked my niece, Oona, what her dragon riding job was, she looked at me with the utmost seriousness and said, “I am very, very gentle with the baby dragons.  I’m really gentle with them, and I give them treats.”  I was especially excited to design a dragon rider costume for someone who works in a dragon nursery, because I never would have thought of any such thing on my own.  It’s the perfect job for Oona!  Here’s the costume:

photos and costume by E.G.D.

photos and costume by E.G.D.

The pouch on her sash belt is expressly for the purpose of storing dragon treats!

My elder sister, Kristie, was not immediately sure what her dragon rider job would be, but from the materials we chose for her costume, she knew she was from a wealthy family.  What she ultimately decided was that she was a dragon riding instructor.  I, as the designer, decided that she probably did some dragon racing in her free time, and the end result was this:

photos and costume by E.G.D.

photos and costume by E.G.D.

Sturdy , comfortable, stylish, and free-moving was the name of the game.  The bodice is based loosely on European bodices of the middle 1600s, and the trousers are Japanese hakama.  I used fancy gold-colored laces, stylish brocade, and metallic gold canvas, along with some almond-colored vinyl pleather.  Tucked under her arm is my best winter cloak, which I bought at an art fair in New Mexico when I was a teenager (I didn’t make it, but it matched so perfectly, I didn’t have to!).  The pouches hanging from her belt are gold velvet and almond vinyl with polished coin buttons, respectively.  I hand crafted the flight goggles out of two glass flashlight lenses, mason jar lids, unused automotive parts from a gasket replacement kit I bought earlier this year, gold canvas, brass grommets, a very old nickle buckle, a shoelace, and some more of that almond vinyl.  I hand-made the bracelet/ring combo on her left hand using brass chain, several connector pendants, a fashionable toggle, and my gerber multi-tool.

Here are a couple of cool action shots and a heartwarming family picture to wrap up the display:

Family swing ride (photo and costumes by E.G.D.)

Family swing ride (photo and costumes by E.G.D.)

Kids at the costume contest (the banner was painted by Oona, aged 4, and it reads "Fulshear Dragon Riders")

Kids at the costume contest (the banner was painted by Oona, aged 4, and it reads “Fulshear Dragon Riders”)

A dragon riding instructor and her two prize pupils at a glass blower's shop (costumes and photo by E.G.D.)

A dragon riding instructor and her two prize pupils at a glass blower’s shop (costumes and photo by E.G.D.)

We all had a truly wonderful time running around the Texas Ren Fest this year, and in the end, I have to say that all the long hours at the sewing machine were 100% worth it.  We looked great, we were comfortable, and I had loaded us all down with enough pouches, purses, satchels, and book bags that we still looked authentic once we started buying souvenirs.  Really, the project paid off in fun.  I can’t wait to see what we wind up going as next year!  -E.G.D.


A True-Life Theatrical Fish Story

August 31, 2013

True story: at the beginning of this month, I was bit by a dead shark onstage after a Mad Science show, and I had to get five stitches on my right hand.  It was at the Johnson Space Center (yes, NASA’s “Houston”).  Soooooo, “Houston, we have a problem!  One of our performers was seriously injured by a dead shark and is bleeding all over the stage!”  I’ll admit, I’m not actually quoting anything that was stated verbally, though that’s more or less the phrase that ran through my head as I attempted to staunch the bleeding with paper towels before it damaged the less cleanable bits of my equipment.

Let’s tell this story properly, though, shall we?  Once upon a time, at the beginning of August, Elisa was scheduled to do eight Mad Science shows at the Johnson Space Center.  The shows were titled “Animals.  Science.  Who Knew?” and they were booked as a part of the Space Center’s “CHOMP!” exhibit.  The shows basically dealt with A) the science of animal survival and B) how animals inspire and further the cause of scientific innovation.  The Mad Science equipment included a good number of stuffed animals and puppets that were positioned around the stage, and the stage itself was decorated with quite a few skulls and jaws of various carnivorous animals.  Several of the stuffed animals and puppets were leaning against or sitting on the display logs to which the skulls and jaws were permanently affixed.  After my fourth show (the second show of the second day), I was putting equipment away, and when I went to grab a bird puppet, I bumped my hand against a shark jaw.  It was sharp, and when I felt the prick on my hand, my reflex action was to pull the hand back.  That was, in retrospect, a bad move, because the next thing I knew, I was bleeding all over the stage, my lab coat, and the shark jaw display.  I attempted to staunch the bleeding with paper towels and used a good number of bandages from my purse’s first-aid kit, called the Mad Science office to let them know what was going on, and then went to report the bio-hazard to the Space Center powers-that-be.  I wound up awkwardly filling out an incident report (neither of my hands were working very well, probably because I was in shock) and getting a map to the nearest urgent care facility, which was happily just across the street.  After driving across the street, painfully filling out even more paperwork, taking a drug test, and getting permission from the office to file for workman’s compensation, I received five stitches in my right hand.  The cuts took slightly more than three weeks to heal.  They are now scarred over (thank heaven!  That really had me worried).  Still, where I nearly took off the knuckle flesh on my pinky finger it still hurts more than I feel it should, especially when I bump the hand into something in passing.

Aaaaaand this is by far the strangest on-stage fish story I have in my arsenal, and it’s a pretty big arsenal.  This particular fish story is likely to take pride of place for the rest of my career, especially since it actually involves a fish, though it was dead at the time.  As my former room-mate said when I told her the story, “You know, Elisa, you’ve really got to watch out for those space fish.”  Who knew?  -E.G.D.

On TV in the USA!

June 13, 2013

Hi, everyone!  Now, I’ve been on TV before, but I’ll admit, the only other time I’ve been on TV in the USA was when I was a kid.  I was on TV a couple of times when I was living in Japan, in large part because foreigners are interesting to the Japanese public, especially when they enjoy ikebana, know how to tie an obi, and look cute in a yukata.  Yesterday, I officially made my adult TV debut in the good ol’ USA on behalf of Mad Science of Houston.  For those of you who don’t know me on sight, I am “Seismic Susanna,” the blonde woman in the bright green lab coat.

Isn’t that fun? I hope you enjoyed my television appearance, and if you happen to be in the Houston area, don’t forget to look up Mad Science of Houston! I do shows all over town: for schools, for birthday parties, for boy scout events, for public libraries, for IKEA’s spring break events, for Chick-Fil-A family nights… really, do you even need a reason to have a little science in your day?

Thanks for dropping by, and have a great day- E.G.D.

Bullets for Broadway at the Artista!

April 16, 2013

It is getting close to opening night for Bullets for Broadway at the Artista, so I thought it would be a good time to share the link to the restaurant’s web add for the show:

Be there or be square~!

Food, fun, and craziness

Hope to see you there! -E.G.D.

Delving into Dinner Theatre

March 4, 2013

Well, this is new!  Not only is my show (“Up, Up and Away“) with Mad Science going brilliantly well, but I’ve just been cast into my first dinner theatre role.   The show is called Bullets for Broadway, and it will be opening in the Houston theatre district in April.  I’ll be playing Mimi Sheraton.  If I’m remembering this correctly from auditions, she’s a wealthy gossip columnist and a thoroughly amusing character.  Anyhow, I expect I’ll be posting details later, but so far it’s looking like 2013 is a good year for me and acting ^_^.  Wheeeeeee! -E.G.D.


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