December 31, 2009

Confession of the Month

That time again ... better get it over with.

Nearly twenty years ago, when skating in a show in Japan, we had noticed leading up to New Years the audience was spending more on the t-shirts and pictures, tipping the waiters, which they normally didn't need to do and generally giving away more money.

Later I learned why. New Years is a big holiday for the Japanese and the thinking goes that giving away more money at the end of the year will make you richer in the new year.

But I didn't know it at the time. So I was a confused when I saw a paper bill on the ice during the kickline in our show on New Year's Eve. As we kicked our way downstage I discovered it wasn't any old paper bill, but an ichiman yen.

That was 10,000 yen! Half a week's* pay! And it was sitting all by itself on the side of the ice.

Now I would like to think that I was the utmost professional and I would never deviate from the choreography, but there was half a week's pay taunting me. So I instead of the last kick I improvised with a nice lunge, broke from the line and swooped up the money. Roughly $75 in exchange for risking a $10 fine for misconduct.

Professional, schmessional.

I was so excited with my new windfall that I had to tell the other skaters, which meant I had to donate the money to the party fund. (By being generous, I hoped I wouldn't get fined. And I didn't).

So, that made for a happier New Year's Eve party, I think. But I'm not really sure what happened to the money after I handed it over to the company manager. And I'm not sure if the Japanese audience member who threw it had a more prosperous year either.

But I am sure that I want all of you to have a Happy New Year!

*for you math geeks - we did receive only $150 a week as per diem. The balance of the $300 weekly chorus pay went not-so-directly to my bank account in the States.

December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

There were many times when I skated on Christmas Day ... the Nutcracker in Honolulu was especially nice ... doing three shows in freezing Germany was not so much.

Of course it was sad to be away from home and away from family, but it was fun to be with my family of skaters. We always did a Secret Santa or some massive party because everyone felt we had to make it really, really fun and festive or there would have been a big ol' bunch of depressed skaters out on the ice who were away from home and and away from family.

Nobody wants that.

So for all of you showskaters working today, give the gal next to you a little pinch and remember to enjoy the day. It will help the hangover. But remember, New Year's Eve is right around the corner.

December 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Brian!

It can't get much better than this ... yesterday carrying the Olympic torch for your country and today your birthday!

Two-time Olympic medalist Brian Orser carries Olympic Torch in Pickering Dec 17, 2009

By Skate Canada
The two-time Olympic silver medalist, Brian Orser, won his medals in 1984 in Sarajevo and in 1988 in Calgary. He is also the 1987 ISU World Figure Skating Champion. The winner of eight national men’s titles, he is a Member of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Officer in 1988. Following a successful professional skating career, Brian is now recognized as a top-level skating coach. He was at the boards coaching as Yu-Na Kim won the women’s world title last year in Los Angeles. In 1988 he carried the Canadian flag into the opening ceremonies for the Calgary Olympic Games, and on December 17th Brian Orser will carry the Olympic Torch in Pickering, Ontario.

December 17, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Wouldn't be the holiday season without a little Nutcracker! I heard it playing in the store yesterday. Sure, there are Nutcracker ballets playing all over the place, but I liked my Sugar Plum Fairies a little frosty.

Nutcracker On Ice!

And I'll tell you why!

We had a good thing going .... I think the producer/choreographer cut some forty minutes out of the original musical score to keep the show moving along.

Then we started with the "children" in the Opening scene acting like real children, stealing presents, shoving their siblings around, and skating away from their moms. Usually they upstaged the Nutcracker himself.

To spice things up for the dads forced to watch the show, the Arabian number, during the Land of the Sweets, featured two female skaters backing up the soloist, with costumes straight out of "I Dream Of Jeannie".

The Dance of the Reed Flutes - sometimes called Petit Fours - became an all-out comedy, complete with competing diva cupcakes pushing and shoving each other right off the ice. The kids loved it.

And then for a finale, we had Brian Orser doing a backflip. The audience loved that too.

We certainly didn't follow the tradition, but we did entertain! And isn't that what the holidays are all about?

December 14, 2009

A Girl Can Dream ...

Wait a minute, is that a copy of Ice Charades in the back of Tiger's car?

Oh, why didn't I send that complimentary copy to Elin last month?

No, the picture above is the magic of Photoshop, baby. The real book left in the backseat was Get A Grip On Physics by Professor John Gribbin and it's selling like crazy now.

Like I said, a girl can dream!

December 10, 2009

Penguins Behaving Badly

Oh, yes they did.

And I was so jealous.

I only got to be a penguin once, because after my avian debut, I was not allowed under a "skin" again in that ice show.

(A skin was the ice show term we used for a type of costume - usually an animal - that completely covered you.)

As some of you may know, when I was asked to fill in for another penguin, I never bothered to check the penguin head in advance to see where the eyeholes (in this case through the beak) lined up. I put it on moments before the music started and discovered I couldn't see a thing in front of me. I could only see my skates below and that wasn't going to do anything for me out on the ice.

So I took my flippers and pushed up the penguin head as far as I could without exposing my face and skated around like, well, you've heard the term "chicken with its ..." Really, I looked like the bird-version of the iconic Macaulay Culkin pose from the movie "Home Alone" when he tries on the aftershave.

And I'm sure I got fined for it too.

So with orders never again to skate as a penguin, I was jealous of all the shenanigans they pulled off anonymously: pretend fist fights, kick lines, conga lines, and the night of the squirt guns.

But years later I skated in an amusement park in Japan that began the show with Sailor Moon, a popular cartoon on Japanese television. Although the skaters weren't in "skins" they did have a fake head to put on and sometimes I got to be the villain.

Here are some of my fellow skaters(I'm not pictured here because I took the picture) posing after the last time we did that number - it was a lot of fun and so we were sad it ended - showing off their heads. Sorry, Sailor Moon was not available to pose for the picture.

Probably shouldn't say this now that I'm a mom, but it was fun scaring little kids. The more I scared the kids, the more animated I got. And even though my face was covered I found myself making crazy faces. I just couldn't do the broader motions with my body without the faces too.

So the next time you see an ice show with a villain - you know, your Cruella de Vil, Maleficent, or Ursula - just imagine what's going on inside. I bet (as an adult) you'll get a good laugh.

December 7, 2009

My Skating Mall

For those of you involved in any aspect of skating ... (and that's probably any of you reading this) you have to check out the website ...

My Skating Mall: Supporting the Skating Community

The site is the brainchild of Ryan Jahnke, the 1993 National Novice Champion, and expected to be completed sometime in March of 2010.

It will serve as a vehicle to make skating more affordable for families struggling with the costs of an expensive sport.

The newest developments are the MySkatingMall Fan Page on Facebook and the Blog.

Having skated on used Harlicks for all but one of my pairs of skates, I love idea of a worldwide skate swap.

You can follow Ryan's blog to keep up with events, ask questions, and give your suggestions. I'll be posting again as the site is ready for the Grand Opening.

Let's help make this a great success, so more kids will be able to skate.

December 3, 2009

Oasis of the Seas

This is a big deal ... and this is a big boat! There is lots of press and lots of buzz out there. Why? Because it's the biggest boat ever.

Check out who will be on the maiden voyage ...

In a twist on tradition, the line has enlisted not one but seven celebrities to serve as godmother for the 225,282-ton vessel -- one for each of the ship's "neighborhoods" -- including singer Gloria Estefan, figure skater Michelle Kwan and actress Jane Seymour.

The others: Twelve-time Olympic swimming medalist Dara Torres, actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, four-time Olympic gymnastics medalist Shawn Johnson and TV personality Daisy Fuentes.

The Seven Godmothers? That's sounds like some kind of new, horrifying fairy tale. I kid.

But anyway, there is a spectacular new ice show on board. I wonder if Michelle brought her skates along?

The show is called Frozen In Time and, please, don't confuse it with Nikki's Frozen In Time, available now in paperback.

No, this is the ice show that is guaranteed to impress with no sad ending.

If any reader out there goes on this or one of the other Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships and sees the show, please, please, please write to me about it!