Monday, March 29, 2010

Drat: The Perils of Literacy

I live in a literate city. By some accounts, possibly one of the most literate cities in America. Fellow Eugeneans check out more books per capita from our library than those in any other city in the U.S. Our library moves over 10,000 items a day, for a population of about 130,000 people. So when a friend recommends a new book, like The Help, I look it up in the library catalog and notice all of the copies are checked out. No problem, I go to put it on reserve. Except that 213 other people are in the queue ahead of me! I guess that's the price you pay for having a terrific library and a literarily inclined populace! I'm sure I'll get to read it someday...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

See How They Grow

The milestones of the year show you so clearly the passing of time, and when you have kids that passage is even more exaggerated. Still, some years go by without the kids changing too much visibly. The year from 12 to 13 however is not such a year. I was just struck by looking at the photos of Mackenzie with last year's spring chickens. He looked like a boy.

Fast-forward a year, half a foot of growth, a smallish moustachy kind of thing on his upper lip, and the teenagey haircut and wow!
My great big honking teenage son! Not visible in photo: size 13 feet.

And then there's Asa:

Granted, the red hair looks alarmingly different, but her face is subtly different as well. Less chubby baby cheeks, more grown-up big girl face. More big-girl attitude sometimes as well, LOL. Ah, I so love my big kiddos, I love every bit of their getting older, even as I miss their younger selves as well. I love laughing at the same lines in movies, having philosophical discussions, having them cook breakfast and even clean it up! They are fun to hang out with and are becoming the most amazing people possible.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Weeks of Annie Comes to a Close

The cast party is over, the performances were ALL sold out, and in the supermarket, Asa gets stopped by a little 3 year old girl with awe in her face: "Mama, ANNIE is in the store! Look, there's ANNIE!" Asa still has her red curly hair, and to a child this age, it's as if she's stepped out of the storybooks and into the grocery store. Asa goes over and gives her a hug. What a sweet moment!

Myself, I am just in awe, completely thunderstruck that our little girl transformed on the stage into this character so completely. Asa's a bit of a fidgety kid, and in the past it's never easy for her to hold focus on the stage but now she's just matured into the ability to remain in character, literally for hours. As I helped her erase the underlines she put in her script so that it could be turned back in, I am amazed at the sheer number of lines and songs that she memorized, all the choreography. Wow. Just so proud. Oh yeah, not to mention that's my dog Sophie playing the role of Sandy. At only 7 months old, she did a great job and I'm just amazed she didn't look out at all of those people in the audience and bolt! Wayne did a great job of being the dog wrangler and animal manager, too.

And let me gush on a little bit longer about this cast. No one over 17 in the cast, yet the maturity of these young actors and actresses, their ability to capture emotion with a gesture or expression, to get the comic timing down, to turn a phrase, well let's just say I came away more than impressed with all of them. Not to mention a director willing to take on a cast of 87 kids (!!!!!) Can YOU imagine doing that? Not me. And transforming them into a singing, dancing bunch of professionals on that stage. And an all-youth orchestra with a music director who burned the late-night oil to make sure that they sounded terrific. Wow.

So please, take a minute and VOTE for Upstart Crow Studios application for a Pepsi "Refresh Everything" grant. This will allow them to buy curtains, microphones, and other much-needed items for this non-profit theatre.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

It's Showtime!

Opening weekend for Annie was finally upon us, and the week started out with a bang as Asa was featured on the cover of our weekly newspaper!!!! They did a nice two-page spread on the production and on the wonderful theatre organization that we've been blessed to be a part of. Since the theatre group is a non-profit, this was a wonderful opportunity to showcase their organization.

Speaking of which, the theatre group, Upstart Crow Studios, is in the running for a Pepsi Grant, which would bring them $25k, enough money to install a curtain, buy microphones, and create an entrance to the theatre. Please take the time to vote (you can vote once a day) for this amazing youth organization.

From mid-week on there it just got more and more exciting as the dress rehearsals wound to their chaotic close, the original dog playing "Sandy" backed out and I crazily volunteered my own 7-month-old mutt to fill her paws, and the other girl playing Annie in the double-cast show came down with pneumonia, leaving Asa to open on Friday night as well as her originally scheduled weekend shows. Then, mid-week Asa herself started getting sick, and I hit her with an arsenal of herbal remedies and enforced down-time, and she managed to make it to opening night with her vocal chords intact.

I saw the show on Saturday night, and to say I was blown away would be an understatement. Now granted, I'm The Mom and all, but I've seen Asa in plenty of theatre stuff before and let's just say she had a very big plate to step up to in the role of Annie and step up she did. She was so in character, every photo I have of her is full of emoting, and she just belted out the vocals like a pro. Just with the work we've been doing in the last 3 months, her voice has really improved a lot, and even notoriously stoic hubby got all teary-eyed as she sang her way through "Maybe" and "Tomorrow".

She has worked so very hard for this, and I really couldn't be prouder. The rest of the principal characters were also fantastic, it's really a very very talented group of kids and teens in this production (including the all-youth 20-piece orchestra!) Daddy Warbucks was played by a young man of 17 with incredible vocal chords and acting abilities, who we've known since he was a wee boy of 8 or so playing with Legos in the living room. At that point, Asa was an infant, so it's funny to see the two of them in these roles as Annie and Daddy Warbucks, but they really just played off of each other so well that it was a joy to watch.

Even my pup Sophie did a bang-up job, emerging through the audience and running up onto the stage, going off with the dog-catchers and then coming when Annie calls "Sandy, here boy!", which was quite amusing. Sophie's motto is "Will work for hot dogs".

The actors playing Rooster, Lilly, and Hannigan were all fantastic comic actors with great timing and body language. I could gush on all night. I was never a big fan of the Annie movie, but had not seen the stage version. It's very funny, filled with (of course) terrific songs and lots of great characters, as well as some social commentary. I wish everyone reading this could come and see, but for now you'll have to just be happy with my pics!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

When Rube Goldberg Dreams...

Proving that there's no such thing as too many wonderful variations on a theme, OKGo tops their treadmill video with this unfrakkinbelievable Rube Goldbergesque video.