Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Competitive Drama

Last night, Cord's drama club had another performance. This time it was a showcase of monologues, musical numbers, and duets. Cord went first and performed a humorous acting duet (not a singing duet) with his partner, and then the two of them sat on a bench on stage and watched as the other performers took their turn on stage, heckling them between performances, a la these two elderly gents from the Muppets:



It was quite entertaining, but the real significance of last night is that Cord now has enough performing "points" to be inducted as a member of Junior Thespian Troupe Number Something Something Eight. Which means he is now eligible to enter and compete in local, sectional, regional, state, national, and international drama competitions.

Yes, competitive drama. Drama is indeed a sport.

Now that I have an athlete in my family, I finally understand that competitive drive you soccer moms feel. You've got to be number one!<--said like Emilio Estevez in the Breakfast Club, mimicking his abusive dad. But I don't have to tape his buns together to get him on that stage. He is very self-motivated, a real acting pro, so all I really have to do is drive him to practices and show up on the night of his performances. Easiest sport ever.
K, so if you recall, he played Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream earlier this year:



Well, I'm finally going to post some video. I was holding out for a copy of the better-quality video footage taken by the school, but the DVDs still haven't come in, so my own dark, bad angled video clips will have to do.

Note: I have five video clips here. If you only have time for one, watch the third one down.

I didn't capture Cord's first scene, which, if I remember correctly, was a real crowd pleaser. But in this scene, Nick Bottom (a scene-stealing thespian) and his acting troupe are practicing a play they hope to perform for the king and queen. So you don't get confused, Cord's character, Nick Bottom, is playing the character of Pyramus, and is referred to as both Bottom and Pyramus. Please note his subtle head nods toward the other kids when it's their turn to say their line:

video

In this scene, a naughty fairy has turned Nick Bottom's head into that of donkey, and Nick has no idea. When the queen fairy wakes up, she falls in love with donkey-headed Nick, due to a love spell she is under, much to Nick's confusion.

video

In this scene, Nick is sitting amongst the fairies, who are showering him with attention.

video

This is after the naughty fairy removed the donkey-head spell. Nick wakes up, thinks everything that just happened was a dream, and is mad at his acting troupe for leaving him asleep in the woods.

video

Here, Nick reunites with his troupe, and then they perform their play about the two tradgic lovers "Pyramus and Thisbe". The boy who comes out first and kneels between Pyramus and Thisbe is playing a wall with a hole in it, through which Pyramus and Thisbe talk. The part of Thisbe (Pyramus's love interest) is played by a boy with a beard, in case that's hard to tell from my dark, blurry video.

video

The end. Hope you enjoyed that, even tho your equally special kid wasn't in it.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Over the weekend...

Cord wore his 4-year-old brother's coat to the grocery store without an once of shame:



Gus came home from school without his two front teeth:



We were pleased that he lost both his front teeth at the same time, as Cord lost one at a time and had to endure a year of snaggletoothness. Gus didn't care about any of that, he was just pleased to get double the tooth fairy money, and insisted we take him to Walmart at once!



The kids have been begging for a pet, and after Walmart, we somehow let them talk us into taking them to Petsmart... just to look.

We caved within minutes, and got them two freakishly cute dwarf robo hamsters. Homer was especially thrilled. After we got the cage plush hamster house all set up, he begged us relentlessly to let him hold one of the buggers.

It was 5 seconds of pure bliss...



until...


I was lucky to capture the exact moment^.
If that picture had sound, you would hear high-pitched screaming and wailing.

So, Katniss bites. I'm not surprised. She's a fighter.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A few reviews



I posted a picture of me reading an iPad nonchalantly, so you will assume I got one, and become jealous and upset, but then you'll see that fine print at the bottom of the picture, realize it's not mine, and then feel silly for getting your panties in a bunch. That's the kind of person I am.

That iPad I'm holding belongs to my cousin Andy and his wife Amber. They were in town for a conference awhile back, and they left their iPad at my house for me to babysit, along with their kids. So I thought I'd post some reviews, in case you were considering an iPad (vs. a Kindle), or thinking about babysitting Andy and Amber's kids.

First, my review of their kids, Evelyn and Preston.



1) They say all kinds of entertaining things.
2) They look and act like boy/girl twins, and who wouldn't want to sample twins for one day.
3) They equate a park with a slide to Disneyland, which is always good for a babysitter's ego.
4) They are two of the happiest kids I've ever met.

Bottom line, I give them 5 out of 5 stars and recommend you all babysit them.

Now, my review of the iPad (as compared to its nemesis, the Kindle):

It has never escaped my notice that the Kindle is slightly 1980s Atari-ish, what with its mouse-size joy-stick, and duel side flaps for old-school page turning. Seeing it next to the iPad, in the flesh, only confirms my suspicion that Amazon needs to fire the elderly gentleman in their design department.

Compared to the Kindle, the iPad is like a shiny new spaceship, but this futuristic technology is nothing we're not used to. The iPad is basically a ginorm iPhone, or, I should say, an iTouch, since it doesn't function as a phone. If you already have one of those, you would just be buying a huger one.

Excluding all the fun apps on the iPad (since you could do all that on a much-cheaper iPhone/iTouch), and speaking only from a book reader's POV, the iPad does do a lot of interesting things that the Kindle cannot do. For example, I sampled the children's book, Toy Story. It was in color! The iPad read the book to me in a very nice Woody-type voice. It was animated. There were small icons on the top corner of almost every page. Tap one, and the screen would switch to a little game of "get the floating army men safely to the ground." Tap another icon, and the screen would switch to a full-size video of "You Gotta Friend in Me" from the movie. So basically, only a few pages into the book, I had stopped "reading", and started watching a scene from the movie. Which made me think, "Why would any kid want to 'read' this, when they could just go watch the movie?"

Which made me think of THIS.

So, as far as children's books go, it was novel (ahem. pun.), but who's gonna hand this super expensive thing over to a kid so they can fake-read? Maybe right when you take it out of the box, you'd set them on your lap and let them have a gander, but after that, it'll be this never ending question: "Can I play on your iPad?" and this never ending answer: "Hells no." (The "hells" part won't be spoken out loud, cuz these are kids we're talking about, but you'll sure as hell be thinking it.)

Reading a grown-up novel on the iPad (without pictures and stuff) was cool. The pages turn with a slide of a finger across the screen, as expected. Some people may not like that it's back-lit, just like a computer screen, as it could cause eye-strain. That might bother me over time, but in the short term, it doesn't. The Kindle, if you recall, is not back-lit. The screen looks like paper. But you need a lamp.

Buying a book in Apple's bookstore, iBooks, cost more than buying the same book in Amazon's Kindle store. For example, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen sells in iBooks for $9.99, while it was only $6.27 in the Amazon Kindle store. The paperback price on Amazon is $10.04. You save a lot with Kindle, only pennies with Apple. Solution: simply download the Kindle app to your iPad and buy all your books through the Kindle store. So that's not really a mark against the iPad, but a big mark against Apple's iBooks store.

What surprised me the most about the iPad was its weight. It's a heavy mother-ship, where the Kindle is a paper airplane. It was the difference between holding a big ol' giant heavy dictionary, or holding a small, practically weightless paperback. Call me Mr. Burns, but the weight was actually a big deal to me. I read in bed every night, and I couldn't imagine holding up a dictionary-type book with my weak fragile arms.

Price.
Kindle costs $259.00 (that's after tax, free shipping).
The iPad starts at $499.00 for their lowest memory model (plus tax could add another $40, and you have to pay a recycling fee of $8 in some states, free shipping).

Bottom line: The Kindle could use a technological makeover as far as design, but it is brilliant at what it was intended for: downloading cheap books instantly to a wireless reading device. And the 1908s design doesn't interfere with that. You still have your instant gratification at a much cheaper price than you'd get with a glue-and-paper book. And since I already have that convenience, I have no reason to upgrade to a heavier, cooler-looking model. Now, if I won an iPad in a raffle, or if someone gave me one for my birthday on June 12th, I wouldn't throw it away or anything. I would be super happy and excited because it's pretty darn awesome. But when I got all tucked in bed at night, I would probably turn on my lamp and reach for my light-weight Kindle.


Friday, April 16, 2010

4 Parts

Part 1: In which I show you a few more pictures from that Petapalooza thing Kris Allen concert.

I use the word concert loosely. It was really just Kris Allen and his BFF and their guitars. No band. But they sounded really good. His BFF is freakishly hawt (see pic):



But it was a forest of hands and teeth around Kris Allen.



Oh yeah, the BNL played too.



They were entertainment pros. They did this synchronized boy-band dance at the end that looked super hard and complicated. They practiced that a lot at home, I'm sure.

I didn't have a video camera, but here's some audio I recorded on my phone of Kris Allen singing "Man in the Mirror" if you're interested.

video

K, Part 2: In which I show you the trailer for this new romantic comedy by Steven King:




Part 3: In which I beg for help.

I've been spending days, weeks, months trying to plan the perfect summer family vacay and I'm going crazy, like Jack in The Shining. It's really depressing, searching flights on the Internet for an entire day and coming up with nothing. All that time wasted. Here's some rules:

1) Has to be a place we've never been before (think east of where we live, cuz we've been all over the west)
2) Has to cost no more than $3,000
3) Has to be awesome
4) Has to be exactly like our trip to DC



Part 4: I forgot what I was gonna say. But there was gonna be a part 4, I swear!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Kris(!) Allen(!)

He just got back from Rowando, you gize.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

We got a pet...



She's a puffer fish, and she only has to live long enough for us to go to Pet-a-Palooza this weekend, which is this big party for pet lovers (I heart Lois). Anyone can go, but if you don't have a pet and you go, you're an idiot.

Lois is so freakin' cute, with her puffy, bespeckled body and tiny disproportionate fins. I wanna squeeze her til she pops!

And look who's gonna be at Pet-a-Palooza:



Everybody loves BKL, yes, but how did Five for Fighting get billed above Kris(!) Allen (!).

Remember when he was on American Idol back when it wasn't super boring?

I wonder if Gityd will be there?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Oh yeah. My blog. I forgot.

I feel like I should mention how long it's been since I blogged, but I'm not even gonna say a word about it.

We had a jam-packed-fun-filled Spring Break. First, the notorious F.L.E.M. came to Las Vegas with her kids for a visit, and then the elusive H.O.T.P.A.N.T.S. decided at the last minute to come with her kids too. Throw in a few local Briecks (that's Beck+Riek) and those adorable Esplins, and you got something to envy.



(I apologize for the off-centered solitary picture I took during the whole entire visit.)

I had fun with the grownups, of course, but my favorite part of the visit was watching all those kids have the time of their lil lives playing together. I also liked when we played Noah's Arc, and I liked feeding my imaginary iPhone fish, rearranging the decor in my "showcase" tank, and tapping my (17) fish tanks every thirty minutes. That was fun.



(Your eyes do not deceive you. Those are killer whales (!!), coexisting with longfin bannerfish and etc.)

Our guests were headed home by Tuesday (thanks for coming!!!), and early Wednesday morning we drove with some local friends to SoCal for the second half of Spring Break.



We had way too much fun for me to be taking out my camera every few minutes and capturing moments, so I only got a handful of pictures.

We went to Knott's Berry Farm on Wednesday. The weather forecast said rain, but there was nary a drop! It was nice going to an amusement park with a bunch of people tall enough to ride the good rides. The only thing wrong with Knott's Berry Farm is their nonsensical rule that I must take off my glasses and set them haphazardly on the ground before I get on any ride that goes above 2 miles per hour. I felt like the hugest nerd, setting my glasses on the ground and then feeling my way back to the Pony Express and straddling my pony.


(That's not me in the picture. I just added it so you can get the full gist of my humiliation.)

It was hard to really enjoy the rides when I couldn't see what was happening, and I got a big headache from all that blurry vision, but oh well. Still fun. Stupid Knott's Berry Farm.

Here's Homer and his Bestie on a ride in Camp Snoopy:

(Terrible dark picture taken without a flash, but those tiny hands in the air are killing me softly)


(Only other picture taken at Knott's that wasn't blurry or the back of someone's head)

We spent the next day at the beach...







We rented these six-seater bikes...



...and raced around town for a good thirty minutes, or until our thigh muscles burned.

(^^Our whole group, aka a whole lot of fun.)

The next day, one of the families had to head back to LV, and the rest of us went to Universal Studios:



We didn't exactly go inside Universal Studios per se, but we did take our picture outside by the the globe thingy. Way cheaper. And guess who we saw there? Miley Cyrus! Not in person, but in the movie, Last Song. So... anyways.

Other things worth mentioning:
1) We went to Chickfila for the first time and discovered that we aren't missing anything. (FYI, their sauce is merely Wendy's honey mustard, and they refuse to serve toast.) GOD BLESS AMERICA!
2) We went to the American Girl store in LA, which was adorable. Thank goodness I don't have a girl, or else we'd be living in a homeless shelter with a bunch of extravagant dolls.

It was a memorable Spring Break, thanks to all the people who contributed to the fun.

The end.