Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lair of the Ice Witch

I finally left the house yesterday. The roads are mostly clear, though the bridges are still a bit messy. There was still enough ice on grassy areas that it looked like we'd received a light dusting of snow. Strangely, the immediate area around my house seemed to be the iciest I noticed in my neighborhood or in any area I passed on my way to the church. My roof is still white with ice, as is my lawn, and my hedges are still encased in solid ice. It's a stark contrast even to my next-door neighbors. It looks like something out of a story, where either I'm the Ice Witch who keeps my house that way or I've been cursed by the Ice Witch to live in winter forever. Ooh, story idea … It's actually probably because mine is the house facing mostly north and east, so I only get direct sunlight while it's still below freezing in the morning. And I don't keep my furnace blasting. Instead, I dress warmly and keep a portable radiator by my desk. It seems silly to heat the whole house to 70 or so (a challenge with my high ceilings) when I'm just in one spot. I suppose over the weekend when we had seriously sub-freezing temperatures, a three-inch thick slab of ice on the roof might even have counted as insulation, like an igloo.

I survived my last children's choir of the year. Now I get a few weeks to recover, aside from directing them Sunday morning. That's going to be interesting. When we were practicing last night, their attention span faded midway through the song. I could see them zoning out. They remember the words. They just stop caring and get sidetracked. The boys were particularly crazy. While we were practicing in the sanctuary, one of the moms from last year's group was there to watch her daughter's choir practice, and she commented as an aside to me, in a resigned-sounding voice, "I suppose you're not allowed to beat them." I got desperate enough to invent an invisible Elf on the Shelf who came with me to choir to report on their behavior (they'd all already told me about what their elves were up to). And after all the stress of picking out gifts for my teen helpers, they didn't show up.

Now, back to my holiday movie … the heroine's main issue, having to choose between a promising music career and the security of her day job, is one of those "write what you know" things because I reached a point where I had to admit that while I was focusing my mental and emotional energy on writing, I probably wasn't going to be a rising star at my day job, and if I did put in the time and energy on the day job that I'd need to really get ahead, my writing wouldn't go anywhere. I realized that I was being supervised by people who were younger than I was and who had less work experience. I needed to pick one and accept the consequences. But writing as a second career has fewer stakes because you can fit it in around the edges if you're willing to give up other stuff. Also, writing isn't very cinematic. You don't get a lot of interesting scenes out of someone sitting around, staring at a computer screen.

Then I saw this video posted on Facebook, about an a capella group that was stranded at DFW Airport by the ice storm and how they ended up entertaining the other people stranded there (this also was shown on our local news):

That gave me something of an epiphany because I know one of these guys. He's the husband of my agent's former assistant, now associate, and he once came with her to a convention where I was also a panelist. As two singers, we got into a conversation about his career. I thought my heroine could be part of a group like this, which raises the career choice stakes even higher because others are depending on her, and her clinging to security might be holding them back from taking advantage of opportunities. December is a busy season for this group, since in addition to concerts they get hired to do a lot of private parties, corporate functions, etc., and that fits into a holiday movie. I also know of a local group that does a capella caroling in Victorian attire, and if you can do the fancier vocal band stuff, four-part caroling harmony is a breeze, so I thought it would be fun to make it a group that does a variety of things, with costumes to go with it -- Victorian caroling, madrigals in medieval garb, Manhattan Transfer-style jazz in slinky cocktail attire, etc. Then there's potential for humor/stress in having to remember which outfit goes with which gig, changing into elaborate costumes on the fly, and then maybe even worrying about being seen in a hoop skirt by work colleagues. It makes the double life more visual. Their goal would be to make it as a vocal jazz group, but the other stuff helps pay the bills along the way.

On a more commercial level, with stuff like Pitch Perfect, Glee and The Sing-Off, this kind of music has become trendy, which is a hook for a movie. I've also noticed that the female stars of these kinds of movies are often child, tween or teen stars from 10-20 years ago -- often either would-be Broadway babies who got sitcom deals or Disney Channel stars obligated to record music for Radio Disney -- or singers branching out into acting. I figure a role like this would make a good vehicle for a B-C list starlet looking to revive her career as an adult and eager to show off her years of voice lessons or for a former American Idol finalist trying to get into acting.

Now for a little more fun, here's a Christmas song this group did last year. Listen carefully, it may sound familiar (and this may be the only version of this song that's remotely tolerable):

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