Cat Taylor's Mewsings

Balancing left and right brain madness…

RT @radiotimes: May The Force be with…

RT @radiotimes: May The Force be with… Atreyu? Proof #StarWars is, in fact, a #NeverendingStory…

Workshops for the Great Dickens Christmas Fair Start Halloween Morning!


Come join us as denizens of Dickens’ Victorian London!
Seven stages and more than 700 costumed performers!
Come one come all, learn to act, costume and improvise for the biggest Christmas party on Earth –  in costume, in character, be a star!

We’re looking for characters from the books of Charles Dickens, and ‘Dickensian’ characters of ALL sorts.
What do you get out of it? Just the most fun you’ll ever have and lots of new friends!
Don’t be afraid if you haven’t done this before and don’t know anything about it, we have lots of wonderful classes and teachers!

Workshops and auditions for the Great Dickens Christmas Fair begin at 10:00AM on the morning of October 31st, 2015 at Oceana High School in Pacifica. Find out more here:

The Dickens Christmas Fair is a bustling theatrical environment, combining the magic of the traditional holiday season with the writings of Charles Dickens and the rich tapestry of Victorian England. The Fair is a combination of stage performances and improvisational acting in the streets of our London, always involving the audience and encouraging them to feel part of the show. The goal of workshops is to create not just an event, but a world. Our visitors comment regularly about being transported to another place and time, and the way no other event can. In order for a world to really thrive, its’ inhabitants need to not only look their characters and act their characters, they need to *think* their characters. This allows us all to really become other people and it’s a lot of fun, both for our audience and for us.

So come out to workshops, on Halloween morning and join in with the biggest Victorian cast on earth!

Don’t just play the video game, learn to LIVE IT, at the workshops for the Great Dickens Christmas Fair!

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair runs five weekends starting November 21st, 2015 including the Friday after Thanksgiving. Three Acres of Victorian Holiday Delights – Gifts, Food, Drink, & Entertainments at the Cow Palace in Daly City, CA.

Get more information at

Remembering Verna Parino: November 22, 1916 – July 20, 2015

Cat & Verna (my Mom) in Rome, 2005

Cat & Verna (my Mom) in Rome, 2005

Verna Parino, long time Mill Valley resident, passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of June 20, 2015 after a long and adventurous life.

Verna Duren Swanson was born in 1916 in Minneapolis, MN to Lillian and Edward Swanson, joining older brother Roger. She graduated from Marshall High School, (with honors) in 1935; from the University of Minnesota in 1939; and from the Minnesota School of Business in 1940. She was active with the Eastern Star and sang with her church choir, beginning her great love of music. She worked at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester before moving to San Francisco six months into World War II. There she worked for the Red Cross in various capacities including as secretary for the Speakers Bureau, and driver for the bloodmobile and motor corps where she garnered the nickname “Hot Rod Verna”. She also worked for United Airlines and started her first Girl Scout troop in 1945; those Girl Scouts still get together each year on the first Saturday in December.

Verna married Richard Parino on May 26, 1951 at the First Methodist Church in San Francisco and they honeymooned aboard the SS Lurline to Hawaii. Richard had served as a technical sergeant during the war and worked for Granat Brothers as a jeweler before becoming an apprenticeship consultant for the Department of Industrial Relations for the State of California.

Soon after moving to Mill Valley, daughter Catherine Lynn was born in 1956. Verna became active in the PTA, the Outdoor Art Club, the Audubon Society, was president of the Community Church Club, taught Sunday school, and once again became involved in the Girl Scouts as Leader, Neighborhood Chairman, and founding Richardson Bay Association Chairman. Richard became active with the Mill Valley Park and Recreation Department, secretary of the Youth Activities Committee and was instrumental in the founding of the Mill Valley Recreation Center.

After Richard died suddenly in 1967, Verna went back to work, studying real estate and working as a property manager at local realty companies to support herself and her young daughter. She also began to truly indulge her passion for symphony and opera, which had first garnered her attention from the Met broadcasts she heard on the radio in the 1930s, and had loved listening to with her late husband. Being of Scandinavian heritage and having studied German in school, she was naturally drawn to Wagner’s epic Ring cycle. Soon she was touring around the world to see operas, became a volunteer with the San Francisco Symphony, and joined the Marin chapter of the San Francisco Opera Guild and the Wagner Society of Northern California.

Drawing on her experience wrangling speakers for the Red Cross, as well as her own exuberantly inquisitive nature, Verna took over the job of Opera Preview Chairman in 1981 and for the next thirty years arranged professional speakers for eight San Francisco Opera guild previews at six venues annually. She was honored by Opera Volunteers International; San Francisco Opera; San Francisco Opera Guild, Marin Chapter; the San Francisco Opera Guild; and the Wagner Society of Northern California.

From Terri Stuart, president of the Wagner Society of Northern California: “Verna scoured the globe and invited scholars to visit the many Guild Chapters to lecture about the San Francisco Opera’s performances each year. Along the way she befriended many scholars, authors, artists and singers. Nothing invigorated Verna more than sharing her love of music, opera and Wagner with others. “

Verna was a published author with 27 reviews in Wagner Society publications, and was perhaps best known for a “Wagneriaani” review of the 2010 Ring production in Los Angeles which began “When a ‘nice little old lady’ has to stop at a nearby sports bar for a double cognac and loud rock music to recover from a performance of Das Rheingold, you know something is wrong.” She has been interviewed extensively about her expertise on the Ring for publications around the world and was featured in Terry Quinn’s 2013 book “Richard Wagner: The Lighter Side”.

Verna is survived by daughter Cat Taylor Overstreet, who followed her mother’s footsteps in financial matters, musical attributes and arts organizational skills, running a bookkeeping business, playing acoustic and electric violin in numerous ensembles and as entertainment director for the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. Verna was happy to be in attendance when Cat married artist, actor and director Peter Overstreet in 2008 and visited most of Cat’s performances and events, making friends and disseminating musical wisdom.


At 2:00 on August 9th, we will gather for a traditional memorial service in Mill Valley, followed by a Wagnerian-themed Celebration of Life. Please click the Eventbrite link if you are interested in attending, but please be aware that space is limited.
You may also leave thoughts and photos at

Entertainment Proposals for the 2015 Great Dickens Christmas Fair due May 31st

DF15logo-longarch-200RGBJust a quick reminder that entertainment proposals for the 2015 Great Dickens Christmas Fair are due by the end of May. This year we are especially looking for variety performers and one more children’s show. If you have a new show or group that you’d like to propose, please visit this webpage to find out more about performing at the fair.

Please keep the following in mind if you are proposing a show:

  • No fire performances
  • No prerecorded music/audio, video/animation
  • Costumes, language, sets and props must be appropriate for mid-19th century London (not Renaissance)
  • No modern performance styles (no aerial silks, etc.) or obvious modern (vs. Victorian) technology
  • Able to fit on available stage sizes

Please consult all of the information on the performer’s web page before proposing a show.
Proposals may be sent to entertainment director Cat Taylor at

(Some items on the website may have last year’s information, we are in the process of updating. Please note new email address.)

A father-son duo with a more clever idea to protect networks from hackers

A father-son duo came from out of nowhere with a more clever idea to protect networks from hackers—and now have a $1.75 billion startup with $160 million in the bank.

Thinking of opening a new business? Here’s a helpful article from Intuit on avoiding legal issues.

“The last thing a new business owner wants to deal with is legal problems. If you’re planning to open a business, here are five things you can do to prevent troublesome legal issues from popping up.”

Love My New iPhone 6+, My “iFab”

The word “phablet” is just annoying, I like iFab much better. You heard it here first.

Dickens Fair Character Auditions October 3rd in Pacifica (and more…)

DF13logos-undated-012714Theatrical Fun in 19th Century London!

The Dickens book character groups are ensemble casts that pride themselves on showcasing the vast panoply of Dickens’ brilliantly wrought characters. Dickens’ characters are big, bold and quirky with a lot of theatrical and interactive opportunities, plus tons of scenery to chew. Our lives at Fair are one big theatrical and improvisational banquet throughout the day, interacting with our guests and fellow cast members, and creating scenes from Dickens’ works.

If there is a role in a Dickens book or adaptation that you want to play (or simply find appealing) prepare a brief piece to read – and act – for the audition team. It will give us a clearer idea of your capabilities and the type of character you want to play. Dickens wrote a lot of vivid characters – both male and female – that cover a broad range of age, class and eccentricity level. The books are a theatrical goldmine! There is an enormous amount of material available online to help make your search fun and interesting as well as easy.

More information on the character roles available, please see the Dickens Fair missives page at
where you can also see audition opportunities for other shows and casts,  and sign up for the missive (newsletter) list.

For more information about performing at the fair, please see:

The best article I’ve seen so far on iOS8

The best article I’ve seen so far on today’s upgrade to iOS8.
“iOS 8 Arrives: Should You Upgrade Right Now?”

36th Great Dickens Christmas Fair Tickets Onsale Now!


Tickets onsale now! Step into a Victorian wonderland of waltzing, feasting, laughing and singing!

Purchase “Print at Home” tickets now through October 15th and save $5 off the box office price of $25 Adult tickets (good weekends 1 thru 3). Children’s tickets are only $10 online!

Discover new ways to amaze and delight your senses around every corner… Applaud, marvel, carouse, dance, and mingle with old friends and new, at the 36th annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair! Purchase your tickets early and save!


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