¿Eres tú mi madre?

I had my last Uncle Grampa’s Hoo-Dilly Storytime for the season, resuming next spring. There’s another one this Saturday, but I’ll be Giving Thanks elsewhere.

In case I haven’t described this show, it is essentially an improv show for kids. In the green room before the show, we make up four story titles and write them in dry erase marker on a wheel. A child from the audience comes up and spins the wheel, and whatever it lands on is the story we make up and act out.

The cast is two puppets (usually Phinneas J. Monkey and Lil’ Tamo the Robot), the host Larry Lederhosen (a grown man in lederhosen and a Robin Hood hat), myself (Fritz the evil Butler) and a guest character of the week.

The story this week was Tumbleweed Jones and the Cranberry Banditos. The Wheel of Stories actually landed on No More Candy!, which was a title that RocketBoy had suggested the week before. But the host, with a blantant disregard for protocol, spun the wheel back a space to land on Tumbleweed. (The other two titles were The Wizard, The Turkey and the Princess and Moonbase 7: Thanksmoongiving.)

Since my own child had suggested the rejected title (his plaintive cries that it would be a good story could be heard), I made an effort to incorporate it into the story (I played Tumbleweed Jones, traveling do-gooder whose rallying call was “No More Candy!”). Since we had two titles covered, we went all in and made the Cranberry Banditos hideout on the moon, and I summoned a Wizard, a Princess and a Turkey (audience volunteers) to vanquish the Cranberry gang in the end.

No idea why I’m relating this. Just a signoff for the season, I guess.

What I really meant to discuss was RocketBoy’s Mad Reading Skillz. He successfully read Are You My Mother? by Eastman a couple nights ago. I’m differentiating this actual reading from the other form, which is knowing the book and reciting it while looking at the pages. Armed with his recently acquired “sight words” and a fairly strong ability to sound out new words, he made it all the way through with minimal help from me.

I give some credit to my Sight Words Go Fish cards that I made. I ordered some blank Bicycle Poker cards and wrote pairs of sight words on them (an, are, the, see, and, me, he, she, etc). RocketBoy drew pictures in the middle, and we were off in a spirited game of Go Fish. He pretty much had all the words down after a few games.

Needless to say, I’m very excited. Reading is one of those milestones that loom large on my horizon of Significant Events, eclipsing such minor events such as first steps or feeding himself. But I am required to almost feign indifference during the process of getting there, since I don’t want to push him into literacy. The motivation and desire really have to come from him if it is to be a lifelong passion.

And I think he is proud of his accomplishment. But, to own the truth, this pride in reading pales in comparison to his pride in getting the lead in his acting class’ production of Are You My Mother?. The reading comes as a bonus side effect of his excitement of being in the production. He’s been inviting random strangers and family members alike to the show.

The last end-of-semester show was three students including RocketBoy performing “Peter’s Pets”, a go-to piece for small classes. Basically, Peter interviews several pets to see which one he would like. RocketBoy played Peter, so he is 2 for 2 in terms of leads, which requires us to do some ego management and discussion of the no-small-parts truism.

On the me front, I brought my computer back up into a limping, zombie state. It had died a few weeks back, and I’ve been ordering various replacement parts in an attempt to diagnose the root failure. As it happens, it appears to have been the power supply, though it might have also been the processor. At any rate, I have an extra processor (a AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Socket AM2 CPU) in case anyone needs one, never been used, as my motherboard is a socket 939 and these processors are not returnable once opened.

Also, I have a big Spanish test coming up after Thanksgiving. For motivational purposes, our instructor has held a competition this semester, awarding points for homework. At the end, the student with the most points gets a $150 Ectaco C4Sp Spanish Electronic Translator/eBook reader:

Of the 60 or so students, four of us have left the rest of the pack behind. I’m currently in the lead, 101 points to 99 for the other three. But the final exam is 100 points, so my lead is in question unless I nail the exam. If I nail it, then all their efforts are in VAIN. VAIN, I tell you, IN VAIN! Bwahahahaha!

Voy a estudiar estas vacaciones.

Uncle Grampa’s Hoo Dilly Titles

For those of you who don’t know, I do a show at a local theater in Atlanta (Dad’s Garage Theater) called Uncle Grampa’s Hoo-Dilly Storytime.

The premise is that a monkey, a robot, a man in lederhosen, their butler and a guest character1 all get together in the Hoo Dilly house2 to act out an improvised story for the kids, with copious amounts of audience participation. The title for the episode’s story is taken from a spinning wheel with four potential titles on it. A kid spins the wheel, so if the story doesn’t work out, it is that child’s fault. Or so we say backstage.

We usually make up the titles in the green room before the show. But one of the cast members, in preparation for our opening on September 27, started throwing out title ideas via email, and I responded with same:

Sneakers The Crime Solving Dog
Once Upon A Time in Cleveland
The Princess and the Peanut
Ol’ Uncle Crabby Gets a Unicorn
Mouse Trouble
Once Upon a Time In Space
Oh no, it’s Vikings!
Bizz Buzz in Hive Five!

The Hopscotch Bandits
The Princess of Candy
The Super Duper Spies and the Mystery of The Whatzitcalledagain
Four Days Before Christmas
The Snow Day and the Yeti
Pony Loses His Saddle
Monster School
Disaster! The Musical

Got any ideas? Put ’em in the comments.

1 New to the cast this year will be a donkey and a duck.
2 Left to the man in lederhosen by his Uncle Grampa, who is played by a former president of the United States.

Foreshadowing the Weekend

There is 150 feet of 1″ manila rope in a box in our entry way, a slingshot in the basement, a roll of yellow poly twine on our kitchen counter, and a heavy bolt or nut somewhere on the premises.

There are two size #3 soccer balls in a bag in the entry way.

In the basement, there are a number of unused toys stored in shelves in the back room.

In the back of a small theater in Little 5 Points, there is a play-board with one more show left in it.

In the backyard, there are a number of left-over fence stakes still staked in the ground.

There are squeaky doors leading to the bedrooms of children, and a can of WD40 in the garage.

These material items form a map of my weekend to come.

In Anticipation of Cleaning and Other Random Statements Regarding the Future, With Blame

I am really way more excited about the cleaning and organizing tasks scheduled for this weekend than I should be. I blame the inspiration of unclutterer.com.

This weekend we will be babysitting two very large dogs. I blame my brother.

If anyone was planning on catching the penpenultimate Uncle Grampa’s tomorrow, know that I will not be in it. You may possibly take this as extra encouragement to show up. I wouldn’t blame you.

RocketBoy’s playdate with his 4th grade friend was canceled due to a sudden scheduling conflict. I blame her mother.

We’re going to do a yard sale on May 24th. If you are in the Atlanta area and have some items you wish to dispose of in a non-online way, you have only yourself to blame if you do not contact us about it.

4 minutes and counting…

How much can I post in the < 4 minutes I have left in the workday? --- Stamps. Why can't I print media mail stamps online at www.usps.com? I can post certain types of priority mail, but not media mail. So the recepients of a couple paperback books are just going to have to wait until I can get stamps at the post office. --- It looks like I'm going back to Juarez the week of March 5. I'm sure the frequency of trips is going to subside soon. I'm sure. Sortof. Perhaps my mistake is having a good attitude about it. --- Uncle Grampa's this weekend... a rare show without Matt Horgan as Larry. Chris Blair is subbing in as Buffalo Tony, who is my favorite Chris Blair Uncle Grampa's character. Tune in if you have a kid, by which I mean, show up. --- I'm in TheaterSports on Saturday night, and a coworker is threatening to come. --- Dozens of people coming in this weekend, and no food in the house a'tall. I'm on grocery duty after work. And with that, I'm off.

Zombie Dream, and the HooDilly

Tonight, as we’re getting Rocketboy ready for bed.

Rocketboy: Okay, I’ll ask you what you’re going to dream about tonight, and then you ask me.
ElectricRocket: Shoot.
RB: What are you going to dream about?
ER: Mmm… maybe dinosaurs. What are you going to dream about?
RB: A boy without a brain.

Another big house for Uncle Grampas. Pretty soon, we’re going to get cocky and demand trailers.

My brother came along with the fam, as well as one of Roan’s classmates, J_, and his mom. J_ and his mom loved it, and I could hear my brother’s distinctive laugh above the throng, so all went well.

The story was The Three Little Pigs 2: Through the Time Portal. The time travel sequences involved the pigs getting mercilously scratched by Time Kittens. “So painful, yet cuddly.”

I’ve been fighting a nasty cold for the past few days, so I hung back and did second support (playing the third little pig, StupidHead1, who doesn’t go on the time travel adventure, but rather stays behind to remodel their brick home into a straw house.) I also played the Time Kittens. And a bear from the Time of Bears.

Next week, I’m not in the show. But I hope to go and watch, and be directorial.

When I got home from Juarez last week, as I was paying the parking attendant, my window got messed up in such a way that I could only roll it halfway up. So this week, I’ve had garbage backs taped over the upper half to keep from dying of hypothermia on the way to work. This afternoon, my mechanically inclined brother (who became that way largely because he owns a ski boat) was able to fix it while I watched, being sniffly and generally useless. Yet another benefit to having the guy in town.

But I can still take him in a fair figh– oh wait… no I can’t. He’s also more built than I am.

Well, I dress better… oh, no I don’t. He irons and stuff.

I’ve got better vision… wait, he had laser surgery, which I couldn’t get even if I wanted to.

I’m taller. There. I’ve still got that on him.

1 Remember, this is an improv show fueled by audience suggestions. 5 year old audience suggestions.

The Jokes of the 4 Year Old

So, Rocketboy had a hissy fit about going to school because he wanted to stay home and watch Magic School Bus all day long.

After about fifteen minutes of crying with tears streaming down his face, right before we were about to go, he stops crying and says “I was just kidding, daddy.”

This morning I’m sitting at Georgia Shakes waiting for the time to go to Steakette’s doctor appointment. I’m in the managing director’s office, and it’s no wonder the managing directors keep leaving, as the server in here is loud enough to drive one crazy.

Last night, we were at GS as well, because has a photo call with one of Rocketboy’s classmates, R_. R_ is a stunningly pretty little girl, and it’s a shame they only needed shots of the back of her head. Of course, Rocketboy wanted to take pictures with his buddy, so they took some shots of both of them in ridiculous costumes that may be useful for educational program materials.

We also had to hang around for a couple hours until they took the pictures of the guy with the spaghetti on his head, as Rocketboy was NOT going to miss that. While it was going on, Rocketboy ran in circles yelling “Spaghetti Monster! Spaghetti Monster! Everybody let’s get out of here!”

Eight days and counting until the opening of Uncle Grampa’s Hoo Dilly Storytime at Dad’s Garage. I’m directing it this year, largely because no one else wanted to. So, if you’ve got a kid in the 2-6 year range, or if you can steal one, or if you’ve just got nothing else to do at 11:30am on a Saturday, come on out… you may not regret it!