Friday, June 20, 2008

kids say the darnedest things

I tried to post yesterday, but I think blogger was having issues....

This weekend is WNEP Theater's annual SKALD (storytelling) event. We hold a kid's competition, an improvised event (that is utter madness) and our crowning jewel, the SKALD- where 10 storytellers have 7 minutes to make you laugh, break your heart or just open your perspective some.

Last night was the KidSkald. We had five children from ages 8 to 14. And while our audience was teeny (in comparison to last year) - the 5 kids that performed were delightful! I was tapped to represent WNEP as one of the three judges. Dude. It was hard to pick a winner. They each brought something unique to the table.

My only regret is not having the chance to sit down with them and tell them how great they did. I heard the words coming out of my mouth "You all did such a great job!" And it may have sounded like I was just "saying it", but honestly, they were all so different and brought such different skills and talents - they really were fantastic and should be very proud of their efforts.

Our youngest, Abi, started with the Shel Silverstein poem "Sick" and finished with some classic Suess. She memorized both poems and was very animated in her delivery. She was completely committed to her performance and I have to mention, had the most adorable lisp. Afterwords, I refered to her as the evening's "Little Miss Sunshine" because she brought that same kind of charm and enthusiam to the stage as that Broslin kid. A-dorable...and she held her own against the older kids.

Eleanore, one of our 14 yr olds, read the story of the Gingerbread Man and then later, read a personal story she had written a few years earlier. She mentioned that the story was inspired (or assigned?) after her 8th grade class read To Kill A Mockingbird. It was the saga of a princess trying to find true love, while overcoming her own vanity.

Emily, our other teen, delivered a hilarious David Sedaris peice on Santa Claus. I was mightily impressed by Miss Emily. She was the first to start off the competition (which is nerve wracking at any age!) and at one point, lost her place in the peice. She stood there for a good ten seconds before she found her place and then, kept on truckin'. That, my friend, takes fortitude. She didn't give in to the anxiousness of the moment. She just took a moment, stood her ground and plunged back into it. Later, she told a peice from a children's book that I'm unfamiliar with (but my fellow judge - who has kids - seemed to know it) about a classroom who had to write poems about colors. It was pretty funny and really well delivered. Again, impressed is the word I would use about Emily.

Christian, our only boy in the competition, was 11 and everything that's awesome about being 11. He was the only one to tell his own personal stories. The first, a tale of trial and tribulation at Six Flags in the company of his best friend and his brother, where they rode "Raging Bull" and played Whack-A-Mole. He confirmed for us (with not one teeny ounce of irony) that he remains, to this day, the unbeaten and Supreme King of Whacking. Four years running. Lord love him.

Later he told about a birthday where he received his own set of golf clubs. The way he delivered each tale - with sound effects, imitated voices of his family and his physicality - it clinched him the winning spot of the night! He walked away with $50 cash money!

But, a special place in my heart was dug for our other 11 year old, Miss Josephine. If Jen and I could ever spawn, we agreed that Josephine would be that progeny. She began with a telling of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky which was immediately followed by an impromptu display of jujitsu kicks and moves, which were performed in time with her Mother singing the Macarena song from the audience. The entire audience joined in with a rousing "Ehhh, Macarena!" with her final kick.

If that doesn't fill your soul with goodness, I can't help you, brother.

She ended the night with a song. She stated that while she would sing a song, that the song tells a story. I have to admit that her pointing that out, really made me listen to the lyrics for likely the first time in my life.

Josephine then performed an acapella rendition of One Tin Solider (The Legend of Billy Jack.)

I'm sure I've heard that song dozens and dozens of times on the radio as a kid and over the years, but it was the first time I really listened to it. When she wad done, she admitted that she changed some of the lyrics and a bit of the tune.

It was the hawesome.

They all were. Wish you coulda been there.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

While I'm very happy that Obama had finally secured the nomination and while I'm thrilled this historic moment is getting it's due on the morning news, something still struck me like a stone in my gut today.

This morning, when I was getting ready for work, I didn't hear one news report about Iraq. I heard about Iran. And I heard about Israel...but nothing about a country where our soliders continue to be stationed and where people - who's lives and homes and livings have been destroyed and continue to deteriorate.

It astounded me. So I went looking.

I just read this article about a young Iraqi man who is now living in Philadelphia. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it. It's both a window and a mirror that more Americans need to study and react to.

I think the only way we are going to extract any measure of progress out of this fucked up situation is to listen to the Iraqi people. And to our people working with them on the ground. To put ourselves in their shoes and engage our leaders to make the right choices in the coming weeks, months and years.

After reading this article, it occured to me that my tongue-in-cheek reference of this season of the Cubs as a "war" might offend someone who has a direct link to the ongoing war in Iraq or has lost a loved one or friend. That was never was my intention. War is horrific and painful and as a country (where bombs aren't going off on a daily basis) we are often cavalier in our respects towards the casualties on all sides of this action.

I call it 100 years war, because the Cubs connect me to my grandmother, Wanda, whom we lost 2 years ago last February. Her life in some ways seemed like a struggle to me. And while she never had to deal with suicide bombers, she did have more than her share of tragedy, heartbreak and loss. Still, she was a huge fan and every time I think of the Cubs - watch a game or even see someone just wearing a Cubs logo - I think of her. And for the last couple of years, it's made the loss of her something that becomes tangible in that moment.

My brain just zips right to her yelling at the TV or the radio. Calling them bums one minute and then telling me how fantastic they are and how they're good boys. In a way, being a Cubs fan has always equated with struggle...and at the same time, a hopefulness. So, in a way, loving the Cubs is connected to my love for her...and (I'm sure I'm not the only one who foists these feelings upon their home team) the struggle for them to make it to the world series seems like an ongoing battle with a strong emotional and personal impact.

If comparing a sporting event to an unjust and unending action in the Middle East is offensive to anyone reading this, I again extend my apologies. I do discern a vast difference in them and want to make that clear.

Monday, June 2, 2008

High Hard Ones
- Ironman ROCKS.

- Harvey Korman, Bo Diddley...are waiting for their third celeb death to join them. And it better be someone who can come with some high ranking cred, because these gents were legends of their respective crafts. Both shall be missed.

- Have finally started watching Torchwood (yeah, yeah, I'm forever late the the party ever since I got rid of cable.) Not quite as awesome as Firefly, but hella mindless fun in terms of Brits fighting aliens.

-RAW is over...and it was a fantastic experience all-around. Friday night a bunch of folks meet up at the Peek Inn for a bit of carousing and karaoke.

- Mayfest is the Best Fest. Spent much of Saturday afternoon hanging with some friends at our favorite local street fest. Listened to plenty of polka music, drank a couple of German biers, got a little sun, ran into folks I haven't seen in a dog's age and got to wiggle some piglets. Nothing better.

We have now entered the rollicking month of June. I'm traveling so much this month, with so many plates spinning, it's making me dizzy. I kinda laid low the past couple weeks blogging wise as I was readying myself for this upcoming onslaught.

100 years war
Cubs are back at the top of the National Division Heap. 36-21. Back to back sweeps with a 7 game streak. Of course, I expect after playing yesterday, flying to SanDiego for a night game this evening...they'll probably be due for a hit. Their on the road averages aren't as sunny, but I'm hanging onto my happy.

I can't remember who was telling me at the bar the weekend that the Cubs doing well was some kind of conspiracy to deflate attention towards the ongoing steriods scandal. I'm pretty sure it was a Sox fan. Can't we all just get along? (With the noted exception of the Crosstown series?)

Go Cubs.