Movies, musicals, NASCAR and more! This time on the Helix House blog we’re talking with Project Coordinator Alex Mayes about her five cool things! Now, frequent readers might be thinking ‘Wait, doesn’t the writer talk about their five cool things??” and the answer to that is YES! The thing about Alex, if you only know one thing about her, is that she is a boss, and as such, she is much too busy. So I, your humble writer, is putting together the blog with the few exchanges I can get between meetings!
When it comes to musicals, Alex appreciates the whole production.
“So, here’s the thing – I don’t really think musicals are ‘cool’, per se. I think they’re fantastic!
From a performance side, the musical part of the show is the build-up of emotions. It’s exactly like when you go from talking, to shouting, to talking with your hands, throwing punches…what have you ( ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ), but instead you go from normal dialogue to upping it a notch to singing and, finally, when you just can’t control it anymore, dancing. On top of that, it’s just fun to watch and be a part of.
On a more technical side, it’s mind-blowing how a great set with the right lighting and good costumes can completely immerse you into a different time and place. It’s not like every set is exactly how they would be for a big-budget film where they can be on location, either. These sets are built with bare-bones to give you the perception of these places. They are used throughout entire shows with minimal changes throughout too! Combine that with the atmosphere the cast and crew give the stage that makes you forget where you are for two hours.”
Our project coordinator is a big movie head and it’s been on display in meetings for the past year-and-a-half, literally. During our frequent Zoom calls, you could always see Alex’s robust collection of Disney VHS. What about them speaks to her?
“Honestly, it’s the artistic inspirations that go into them. ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is one of my favorite examples — animators took a lot of inspiration from the Gothic French, Italian, and pre-Renaissance periods of art to influence the scenes and make it a moving illustration. Then, they hand-painted scenes — up to 15 feet long! — to capture all of the details they wanted to include. They’re not made that way anymore! But even then, moving into PIXAR and that newer type of animation – In ‘Moana’ they designed a whole new program for water to give it realistic movement and characteristics and make sure it didn’t come off too cartoon-ish. They never stop innovating to tell the story they want to tell, but nothing beats the classics.
The Old World art to the innovative technology they create to execute their cinematic visions is wild. I don’t think you see other companies or studios doing the same thing to that extreme.”
Alex is open to more than just fanciful flights of cartoon delight. Sometimes she’s in the mood for something spooky scary, like a werewolf Bar Mitzvah. A recent fave of hers? You might be surprised.
“‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.’ A lot of The Conjuring movies are genuinely good and I love that they’re based on true stories.
The tough thing about horror is there will always be those moments where you can see the scare coming because someone is being stupid… to paraphrase ‘Scream,’ you see people running up the stairs when they should be running out the front door. ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ does have jump scares, but the whole story is just captivating. It’s no ‘Psycho’ or ‘Halloween’ (the classics), but still a good watch! ”
So, why horror?
“The reason I’m so appreciative of the horror genre is the effort it takes to get one right. A lot of times these movies are really cheesy or they rely on easy jump scares. When one actually gets it right and can affect someone on a psychological level…it’s the most impressive thing. Personally, I love movies like ‘Halloween’ the most, because they’re so simple.
Obviously, there’s a whole narrative set up and the perfect line of events would have to happen for the storyline of ‘Halloween’ to play out in real life, but at the end of the day it’s a crazy dude with a big ass knife and anyone could find themselves in that kind of situation. It’s those kinds of movies that make you need to watch ‘The Lion King’ before falling asleep.”
NASCAR, or the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC. That’s right, the true American sport. The idea behind stock cars is taking normal cars, not those F1 super beasts, and modifying them for racing.
“Jeff Gordon! I went to my first race at 2 years old and my dad asked which car do you like, and I said “The rainbow one.”
“What makes it super cool outside of the pure adrenaline and action of it all is the science and math that goes into all of it. Racing had very humble beginnings where these drivers (a.k.a. bootleggers) simply wanted to answer a question: who can go faster? It went from that to, ‘How can we go even faster next time?’ and that was followed by a mountain of more questions.
Alex is captivated by the technological advancements made throughout racing history as well. From the safety features and eco-friendly status to the tracks themselves, racing has evolved much further than the Ricky Bobby “wanna go fast” mentality.
This should come as no surprise from a boss like Alex.
“It’s cool to be a critical thinker, hence the name of this blog — these aren’t five lame things. Critical thinking encourages creativity and curiosity, offers independence by helping you solve your own problems (or others if you’re that friend), and can be utilized in every aspect of life.
If you’re not thinking critically what are you doing besides being a bump on a log or making one poor choice after another? As much fun as poor choices can be, with some critical thinking you could’ve made the poor choice AND gotten off scot-free, but you do you!
“Poetry is bomb.”
“Edgar Allen Poe is my favorite poet. ‘Annabel Lee’ is my favorite poem. It’s one of the most creative forms of writing that ends up being the most raw, because it ends up being the most true form of the emotion the writer is expressing in their work. It’s not a blatant in your face message, but you totally understand the moment that is being created and the feeling behind it if you take the time to pay attention.
It’s a lot like ‘Every Breath You Take’ by The Police — people think that’s a love song when it’s actually about a stalker. If you listen to it, it starts to become more clear. Or, like ‘Annabel Lee’ … you think it’s a love poem, it’s so nice and sweet, she died and he misses her, yada yada yada… when in reality that s*** is f***** up, like he’s sleeping with her dead body!”
So there you go! Alex Mayes’s 5 Cool Things!
Can’t stop, won’t stop. I love the suspense.
Editor’s Note: Yes, she added ellipsis into her quotes herself.