Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day Forty-Eight: Just for kicks

Disclaimer: I am about to speak of something I have little to no firsthand experience of. Therefore, I may be wholly in the wrong and would be willing to accept any first-hand or empiric correction that may result from my thoughts on the following issue.

So, there's this thing that seems to happen quite a bit in movies. (Not good movies, mind you, just the kind that I watch, which may be your problem right there) The situation is usually the same: there is a man standing behind a woman, he may have a gun to her head, he may not, but for some reason or another she is totally helpless. Then, in a flash of sheer martial-arts prowess, she kicks him squarely in the face over her own shoulder, knocking the guy away, down, or out!

WOW! What a trick!!!

I accept that women can do this, because they are flexible beings. I accept that specially-trained martial arts women (spies, assassins, kindergarten teachers) could probably aim that foot accurately enough to hit the guy in the face without really seeing where his head is at that moment, because they're specially trained. However, I struggle to wrap my mind around this one concept:

How in the world does her foot, at this point positioned slightly above her collarbone, pass through her body to travel the distance necessary to hit the face of the guy who is behind her???

Now, I know, I know, generally the captor is leaned forward slightly, laughing in the woman's ear or something, and it's entirely plausible that the toe of her shoe could actually make contact with the guy's face and possible do some damage. This, however, leads me to point B:

How in the heck does that bit of foot have enough momentum to knock the larger guy backwards without impacting the balance of the woman (who is now standing on one foot) ONE BIT?!? It seems she'd have to take more impact from her own knee than Evil Guy is taking from the tip of her shoe. Seems far more likely to me that she could put out his eye with her toe than knock him back.

I mean, think of how much momentum it would take for a kick to do that amount of damage in the first place. Got it? Okay, now take away any solid base one would generally require to deliver a forceful blow of any kind and replace it with a center of gravity that is constantly shifting (part of being jostled around by Evil Guy). Now, you have got an opposing force behind you that you could use to stabilize yourself, but in this instance the source of that opposition is also the target, so it's really not much help. Finally, you have to get enough momentum to get one leg to go from standing still to over your head--not a normal maneuver for any leg, no matter how trained--in less than a second and still have enough force behind it to knock Evil Guy completely off of you (because the guy always releases the captive woman immediately following the impact; she just gets him THAT HARD!).

All right? Now, I've already confessed my inadequacy to comment on martial arts, but DANG! That doesn't seem like it should be POSSIBLE! I really wish that, just once, we'd get a profile view of that maneuver, because I'm really thinking that Evil Guy is in cahoots with Seemingly-Captured-She-Ra to make that move work. Somebody ought to look into Evil Guy's file and see if there's a history of double-agent work or other general backstabbing.

Come to think of it, I think most movie kicks are a tad dubious. In a movie, if you get kicked, you're out for a good thirty seconds. I don't know if that's really true. I'm sure a well-placed kick by a master would not only floor a man, but also knock him out. But a lot of things gotta go right for that to work, you know? In movies, generally a guy will run full-force into another guy's foot--not the heel, the hard part, and not straight-on, where the kicker would have a firm foundation to kick from, but usually from the side, or behind, so they catch the broad side of it--and the momentum swinging on one leg is enough to completely counter and overwhelm the momentum of an entire body heading full force in the opposite direction.

You know what, I obviously just need to learn how to kick people. I think that's the answer to this particular quandary, because there is just a whole lot of physics going on that I simply do not understand.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Day Forty-Seven: Closing Night

First of all, I really intended not to write about Hero Squad tonight. However, this is my blog, and today was a pretty major milestone and discovery, and if I'm making a daily record of anything for the course of this past year, this really ought to be on it.

We had scheduled three performances per Friday for this particular run. We normally schedule two (one at 9:30 a.m. and one at 11:30 a.m.) and we frequently have trouble selling the early show, so it more often than not ends up getting canceled. In addition, we added Friday nights to this run, because the church that hosts our children's theater said that we couldn't be in there two Saturdays during the run, canceling four of our most profitable performance times, so we added Fridays to make it up.

With that said, due to the aforementioned fact that the 9:30 shows generally get canceled, this was the only week where we actually HAD three performances on our three-performance day. It also happened to be the last day of the run. That, my friends, is how a show like this one should go out.

We dragged a little bit through the first half of the first show, but picked it up quite nicely and finished strong with a house that was close to 80% full. That was nice, but nicer was my boss (direct supervisor, not supreme supervisor) finally came to see the show and really, really enjoyed it. Also got to speak with a woman and her two daughters who've been coming for three years and said that this was by far their favorite. And while it's true that somebody says that about every show, it's still an encouraging thing to hear.

Our second show was for a smaller crowd (though some twenty people larger than we had expected it to be) that was boisterous and enthusiastic throughout. A lot of our smaller crowds have also been our most vocal all throughout the run of the show; I'm not sure why that is but it's made it a pleasure to play for fewer people. (And, of course, it always helps when you have friends in the crowd, and we did!)

Our evening performance was near perfect. We were completely sold out and it was entirely families (instead of school groups), which give a broader range of experiences to the show--and to this particular script, the only way the audience can fully enjoy it is if the younger ones are there to help along their parents at points, and the parents are around to help along the younger ones, if that makes any sense to you. (And if you saw the show, it does)

Now, before the show, there were lots of sentiments being shared about who would miss the show, and who could keep on doing it for another few weeks at least, and who was kinda sad, etc. And actors were getting sentimental with me, which was absolutely fine and justified. This has been quite the journey for me, as I've been preparing this production (both the script and myself as an artist) for three full years now, and the payoff has been as grand as I could have hoped. I, however, really was able to stave off the mushy stuff pretty well. One last show, then we pack her up. Job well done was pretty much my mindset throughout the evening. (And it held up pretty well, too, until my danged stage manager said something over the phone as I was driving home that finally got me to start to tear up. So close!)

All that to prep for the show. This was easily one of the top three audiences in terms of appreciation. They applauded after literally every single scene. If I had gone all Broadway and milked the curtain call, we probably could have gotten a standing ovation from them, but I detest milking curtain calls, so it was over too quickly. Afterward, the crowd milled for a very long time, the line to greet the actors barely moving, people requesting pictures with their favorite heroes and villains, folks finding me and complementing the script and the direction (but mostly the dolphins). It's kinda like the way Billy Chapel goes out in the movie For Love of the Game. You really couldn't have asked for it any better.

And then we struck, and then we loaded all the costumes to our costume shop, and then Abby almost killed Hannah, and then we split up and went home.

Anyway, here's what I learned today:

This entire Hero Squad vs. the Princess Snatchers experience has been amazing for me. From the early production meetings to tonite, I've loved every moment of it, even most of the frustrating ones. I can look back now and see God's timing in putting this production together for this time, for this group of people. I can see the things that I've learned just in the past three years that have equipped me to handle what this show became. I understand not only how ill-prepared both I and the script were for production back when I first wrote it, but also how this ensemble could only have come together in this slot for this season. And I'm grateful for every rewrite, every revision, every learning experience, every rehearsal, everything that got us to where we ended up. The amount of work that went into this production was massive, but the payoff was worth it.

And I realized how badly I want to do it again.

Not just direct again, because I knew I wanted that long before rehearsals started, and not just directing a good show again, because, well, duh. But when I do this again, I want the ability to look back and realize I and everyone else threw everything we could into something, and to see our work justified by our product. I want to build a show from zero, whether it's a script I write or not, and lay a foundation, and collaborate with other enthusiastic, artistic minds, all of whom refuse to settle for less than the best possible outcome, and then I want to get to the end of it and admire the house we built. I loved this show, but I love that this show is over, because now I can really step back and objectively do all of that. And THAT is what I want more of.

Whatever the next project is, I want so very badly to get to work on it.

With that said, I started a new script tonight. I doubt it will be as good a script as Hero Squad vs. the Princess Snatchers, at least I don't expect it to be. But I will pour into it until it is everything that I can possibly make it. And I will be satisfied with it, and probably proud of it.

But make no mistake. When I write, or when I direct, what I really want, what I'm really looking for, is this. And this comes so rarely in theatre that I fully intend to soak up every waking moment of it that I can before heading off to sleep tonight.

P.S. Haven't re-read or edited any of this, and don't plan to, so some of it may be incoherent. Hm...sorry about that! My blog, not yours! ;-)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day Forty-Six: Phew

I'm trying to find a way to say that this day really beat me down, but I can't find the right words for it.

This is why I don't write more "downer" blogs; I'm really bad at putting my own struggles into words.

I seem to have this trouble when I'm directing, too. I think in pictures and images, I think, and that doesn't translate well when communicating to others. Especially with written words.

I need to read more. I need to work on my vocabulary. I used to be really smart. Those were good times, man.

Good times.

Anywho, I don't really want anybody to worry about me, because there's really no reason to worry. Not yet, anyway. There may very well be soon, and I will be sure to let you know when and if that time comes.

For now, please just keep me and my workplace in your prayers. These are tough times, and in ways we haven't made them any easier for ourselves.

I will say, however, that these are the days for which God gave us families, friends, junk food, lolcats, and Louie.

Yes, in that order.

Side note: Hero Squad vs. the Princess Snatchers closes tomorrow, so if I'm drawing a blank and blogging time tomorrow I may offer a retrospective. (But maybe not. You may be sick of hearing about that show by now. Well, as I said, it'll all be over tomorrow ;-) )

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day Forty-Five: The most satisfying "The end" I've ever written...

It's done.

Clocking in at three-hundred eleven pages, eighty-thousand, four-hundred thirty words.

A novel.

I don't understand how people can write 30+ of these in their lifetimes.

Celebrate with me, won't you?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Day Forty-Four: I got nothing but links for ya

A couple of links for ya.

First up: if you still don't think the upcoming Street Fighter movie is going to suck, I've got three words for you: Click. These. Links. And be converted.

I've seen too many Godzilla movies in my life not to be alarmed by this.

Ay, me. I've got this old house and this cannon and I can't for the life of me figure out what the coolest thing I could possibly do with them might be...

Courtesy Greg Wyshynski: nothing brings out a man's wild side like the color pink. (Editor's warning: this link consists entirely of hockey fighting, which may or may not include a backup goaltender storming onto the ice from the dressing room to take part. Also: redneck fans having a stompin' good time with all the hootenanny going on)

I'm really trying to be excited about your upcoming Broadway musical, Spidey. I promise you I'm trying! But..but...what does this title actually MEAN??

Finally, I noticed a lot of impatient, unhappy drivers on the road both this morning and as I walked to Whataburger for lunch. I couldn't help but feel that many of these people severely needed some Louie in their lives.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Day Forty-Three: The economy

Now things have gone too far.

I certainly hope the President touches on this in the State of the Union address!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Day Forty-Two: Of Life, the Universe, and Everything

This post actually has nothing to do with the question of life, the universe, and everything. However, I can't imagine what else you would title Day Forty-Two.

Be prepared for some shorties this week, my young blogling. This week is all about finishing my wife's Christmas present (since, you know, it's after Valentines Day and all). I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this on here before, but just to catch everybody up: I wrote a novel for my wife for Christmas. At least, I wrote roughly 80% of a didn't quite get finished. Then, as soon as the new year hit, writing got thrown on the back burner by more pressing assignments. Now, however, I believe the time has come to wrap this puppy up. I'm actually not that far from the end anymore, I just have never had a firm deadline to be finished by so I haven't been at it like I had been before Christmas.

Okay, deadline set: Next Saturday by midnight.

So forgive me if I appear a bit terse for the next few days. I gots me some stuff to gets done!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day Forty-One: Random Nintendo Game of the Week!!

It's time for that not-really-weekly feature, the Random Nintendo Game of the Week!! (Not) Every week, we'll look at a random NES game via the magic people at Console Classix and give a brief summation of what we find in roughly half an hour (or so) worth of game play. So without further ado, it's the Random Nintendo Game of the Week!

Game for the week of February 21st, 2009:
The Magic of Scheherazade

Have you ever wondered to yourself how the original Legend of Zelda game might have looked if A) it had been set in Arabia, and B) it had royally sucked? I know I have. And I'm pleased to repeat that the answer can be found in the classic NES title The Magic of Scheherazade.

What's that, you say? You've never heard of Scheherazade? You know, the whole Arabian Nights story? You remember? There was a passing mention of her in Disney's Aladdin?

There we go. Now we're on the same page.

This game opens with backstory. (Awesome! So you're not guessing why on earth you're killing whoever it is you're killing the whole time!) Turns out that there was an evil sorcerer named Saboren (or something like that) who was going to conquer the world (or something like that). There was only one person who could defeat Saboren, and they failed. Rather than killing this challenger, Saboren took their memory and sent them to some other period in time. No way that'll come back and bite him in the rear later, right?

Then comes MAJOR TWIST/REVEAL #1.....the failure who apparently can't remember Saboren (or his kidnapped sweetheart--that's an Arabic term, by the way--Scheherazade) YOU!

And so that means it's up to YOU to stop Saboren, because apparently only you can.

Oh...and try to do it better this time.

And finally, this information is being given to you by a talking, flying, purple cat. I'm generally apt to believe anything a talking, flying, purple cat tells me. Then, this cat (named Coronaya) asks you if you will go with him to defeat Saboren.

And this is what makes the game awesome: You get to choose yes or no. (Shades of a fairly climactic moment in Final Fantasy VI: "Will you be our last ray of hope?" Select yes. "You will? Really??" Classic stuff) You'd think that a vote for "No" would be game over, but it's not. Instead, Coronaya just sorta asks you again. And again. Until you say yes. Lame.

So, now you're on an adventure. You walk around a map like in the old school Star Tropics game and talk to people. (Note: if you change the B button option from "speak" to "sword" you can also stab the people, but they won't be very talkative afterward) The people give you some incredibly useful information, such as "There is a demon cave somewhere. Saboren is in it." Also, they occasionally ask if you are going to save them, and you get another Yes/No choice, and again, they just don't believe you unless you say yes. They're good people.

Leave the town, walk around, slaughter Arabian bad guys, either with your sword or by shooting bubbles at them. ("What? No! How could you know????")

Here's where things get a tad confusing: despite the fact that you are fighting stabbity-stab battles on the map, you also occasionally get random encounters a la Final Fantasy I through X or the Dragon Warrior series. You can select friends to fight with you. At first all you have is the cat. He's pretty useless, and he died at the first opportunity, so then I was apparently lugging a dead magical cat with me since that first battle.

Lame points: in most FF games, if you've got a dead person in your party and you get a hotel room, they wake up refreshed. Apparently, you can not sleep off death in The Magic of Scheherazade. Curse the logic!

You also learn magic spells along the way. In my short trial run, I learned Oprin, Boltton1, and my personal favorite, Pampoo. Boltton1 is a lightning attack spell, Pampoo raises your HP (of course it does), and

Well, here's the thing about Oprin. The game drops very, very subtle hints about when you should use Oprin, such as a townsperson saying "You should use Oprin now" or Coronaya showing up on the screen (unless he's dead) to say "You should use Oprin now." It appears to make stairways appear, including one that is actually a time gate.

Oh, that's right, because Saboren sent you to a non-descript different time period, you've got to time travel! Apparently, time travel is a lot like getting flushed down a cosmic toilet. With a flying, talking, purple cat as your guide. (Of course it is)

I also got a genie and some mercenary troopers in my gameplay time. In case you cared. I could never bring my kitty back to life, because the guy in the mosque charged for resurrections.

Other quick notes:

There are shops, and the shopkeepers always charge too much money. But that's okay, because there's a "discount" option on the menu, and if you select it, the shopkeeper's face gets all sad, and then he sells it to you for half price. Every. Single. Time. Don't try to discount more than once per item, though, or you get an angry face and you have to leave.

At one point I turned invisible. Yeah. Somebody talked about eating a magic seed, and then I turned invisible. I got better, though.

Suddenly, and without warning, there was this TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN! It got very dark. And there was this strange humming sound like something from another world! Apparently, I was supposed to plant a tree at that point. (I found this out thanks to my handy Oprin spell after I had already planted my seed. Dad gum it)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Day Forty: I went on a trip and I brought a...

You know those word games where you basically just have to think of something that starts with the same letter as your first name? 'I came to church camp and I brought a...' 'My name is Will and I like...' 'I'm going on a trip and I'm bringing a...'

Terribly clever and original, those games.

Every time I teach a class in our Theatre Arts Academy, I play some variation of that game, because I'm so horrible with names that I need people to say them as often as possible as early as possible. Especially because I know everybody's just going to change clothes the next day (hopefully) so I have to actually associate their names with their FACES, which is HARD!

Anyway, I'm going on a trip to Dallas tonight. I'll be back tomorrow to report if anything interesting happened or occurred to me on the trip.

Oh, and I'm bringing my wallet.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day Thirty-Nine: Guest Blog #1

So today I was thinking, You know what would be fun? If I had guest writers very rarely on my blog! That would be awesome!

So tonight's blog will be written by my out-of-town guest and all around great gal, Sherri from Oklahoma.

The following comments do not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of wannabewordslinger.


Y'know what? It's warm in Houston. I keep forgetting it's February-- especially since I spent some of today at a beautiful church sitting in a courtyard filled with azaleas. Soaking up the sun-- in February.
Now, admittedly the weather in Oklahoma can be 70's in February, but then it's usually followed up by a day of 40's or 30's and then back to 80's and then down to the 50's again. For those that know me, would you believe I haven't worn my jacket since we left the airport parking lot? Yeah.

Currently, we're crashing cars (I just crashed 70 and albeit far from a record, I'm still content). But this morning I saw the amazing Hero Squad! The cast & crew (of course) all terrific and the kids seemed to eat it up (upon seeing the title: "We're going to see a princess...get kidnapped?!" And soon to come, more children's theatre! Which is great, 'cause I miss it a lot.

Notably, staying with the Ledesma's is always a treat because they're pretty awesome. It's hard not to feel loved when someone makes you a milkshake or, in some cases, attacks you. And while unfortunately I scared their son first thing this morning (this stranger in the dark in the living room) he returned pretty quickly with books and there's nothing better than having a kid to read to and love on. ("Again! Again!")

Guest writer out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day Thirty-Eight: 'Deja Vu' Means They've Changed Something

So I go to the airport tonight. Good little old Hobby airport on the south side of town. Most of the time I fly in and out of Hobby. It's smaller, and Southwest only flies there, so it's generally cheaper. Tonight, I'm picking up Sherri, because she's going to be in town so I figure I should at least say hello.

I get to the airport and park in the far corner of the top level of the parking garage. This is not because there were no closer spots; rather, it was a beautiful night out and I wanted to go for a short walk in it. Fantastic weather, a few stars peeking through the clouds, and a good view of both of Houston's skylines from where I parked. It was pleasant.

Then on to Hobby's one terminal and baggage claim. This is the best part of Hobby airport: there's only one exit for all the gates. Everybody comes out at the same place, so there's only one place to wait for them. There are, however, two staircases that lead from the baggage claim area to the one terminal, one on each side. So I walk in the door I'm used to walking in to pick people up, go around the baggage claim area to the left where I know from multiple experiences there is a large, tunneled hallway which leads up some stairs to the terminal above, and....

...wait a second, where's the hallway?

As I draw nearer, I see nothing remotely close to a hallway. All I see is a solid white wall where my memory says that a hallway should be. I stop and double back toward the entrance, wondering if perhaps my memory was faulty. It had, after all, been a year since I'd been to this particular airport. The last three times I had to fly out or pick someone up, they were all from Bush Intercontinental, a.k.a. The Woolly Mammoth of Houston airports, and so my perceptions of this little rinky-dink operation may be faulty through a mixture of memories from other ports.

I decide to check out the "wall" a little more closely and see if perhaps it's a door that leads to a hallway rather than a large cavernous opening as I think I remember. This time I was all the way up to the wall, probably looking very strange to anybody who may have noticed me and silently wondered if I were a terrorist. There were no doors. There was still a turnstile leading from some fictional pathway that was not there into the baggage claim, and I could see no reason for this entrance if there was nowhere to come from, but lo and behold, there was a very solid wall. So solid, in fact, that there were two functioning pay phones mounted on it.

By this point I'm perplexed, but I can tell for certain that there will be no terminal access from this point, so I go all the way around to the other side of the baggage claim, go up the stairs, and find myself on the opposite side of the terminal I'm used to picking people up from. It's at this point that I start to see many tell-tale signs of remodeling--areas roped off, sheets of plastic covering what had been openings, signs instructing you to go other ways than you're accustomed to, that sort of thing. I look just past some ropes and see what I thought was supposed to be my entrance. There's a sign up there now that says "NO BAGGAGE CLAIM ACCESS" and "NOT AN EXIT", and all is confirmed.

Still. It would have been nice to have one of those signs on the lower level, where there was now not only a blocked-off entry way, but a brand-spanking new WALL with two working PHONES!

The sign could have read, "YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. NO LONGER A HALLWAY."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day Thirty-Seven: Game time

So here are some games you can play online to waste/pass some time. They can't all be Bubble Spinner, but these ones all have a decent degree of amusement to them.

This here is one of the first flash games I ever got into. It's all in Japanese, so you probably won't understand any of the instructions, but it's pretty easy to figure out. Note: Play with the sound on.

Here's one I just found today. It's a bit of a problem-solver and could consume TONS of time if you want it to. Also, it auto-saves your progress, so you can come back later and pick up right where you left off. Score!

This game is not terribly hard, but if you win you are crowned King of the Eskimos. (Sorry, women's lib-ers, no feminine option)

That's probably enough for today. Now, in the words of Tatsu: "Go. Play. Have fun."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Day Thirty-Six: That's my boy!

So Kim and I had to stay after church one Sunday about a month ago for Safe Haven training. This is the video you have to watch (state law) if you are going to be working with anyone under the age of eighteen in any church or camp or probably any other volunteer organization. Everyone working AWANA or Sunday School or youth group or any such thing was required to stay and watch the video and participate in the discussion.

For lunch, the church provided pizza for everybody who had to stay. Since Kim and I were both there, obviously Robbie had to stick around as well (he went in the nursery after lunch), so we all had pizza.

Now, Robbie had had pizza before, but he became very, very excited about this particular meal as Kim and I took turns cutting off small pieces to feed him from our pizzas. (I really do try to share my food, Kim is just so much faster at cutting hers up into pieces that she usually beats me to it) Anyway, we all had a pretty good meal.

The next week, we pull into church on Sunday morning and, from the back seat, Robbie pipes up with "Pizza!" No, we explain to him, there's no pizza today. "Pizza!" he exclaims again. No, we tell him, all gone pizza. "No pizza," he says. "All gone pizza." When we walk in the front door, he points to the area where we were fed the week before, and again, "Pizza!" No, Robbie, all gone pizza. "All gone pizza." And yet again the same thing as we left church for lunch.

The next week, as we pulled up to church, he heralds our arrival by shouting "All gone pizza" while we pull into a parking space. And for the next few weeks, that's what he said every time we arrived at church: "All gone pizza."

Well, go figure, last night for the AWANA directors meeting (Kim goes to those, I don't), they provided pizza for dinner. "Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!" So Kim shares some small bites of hers with him, and once she's done with her food he looks on her plate and then says "More pizza!" Well, one of the ladies in the serving line saw Kim come up for second and asked Robbie, "Do you need more pizza?" "Pizza!" So, rather than give Kim a piece for him, she starts to hand one to Robbie, who grabs it with both hands, and before my wife--who has great Mommy-reflexes, by the way--can stop him, he's chomping into the slice that may be as big as his face while holding the crust with both hands.

And he keeps going.

And he finishes the whole. Dang. Slice.

That, my friends, is a child that I am very proud to call "My boy."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Day Thirty-Five: AWANA stories

For those of you who do not know what AWANA is, it's a once-a-week activity that a lot of churches (is it just Baptist churches? I actually don't know. Kim? Jen?) hold for their children (it goes all the way up to high school, and I'm told there is recently-developed curriculum for 2 year olds) that focuses on scripture memorization. There's also usually a lesson time which varies from age to age (for example, my wife's class, the 3 and 4 year olds, have "story time," whereas my group, 4th through 6th grade, have "counsel time." Same basic idea, only counsel time doesn't seem to have a set curriculum. At least not at our church) and a game time.

This year, feeling that it was high time that I started giving more than just my Sunday mornings for my church, and wanting to become more involved with the children, I volunteered to help out at AWANA. My weekly assignment is to provide counsel time for the TNT's (that's the name of the class; we go from Cubbies to Sparkies to TNT's, I think). Sometimes I know a few days ahead of time what I want to talk about, but usually I don't. It's been a really eye-opening experience. Fun, too, of course, and difficult, but above all I'd say it's been a great learning experience toward the mind of today's kids.

Anyway, today I decided I'd try something different. Rather than come in and talk for fifteen minutes or so, I divided the class into two groups and asked them to tell me a Bible story. Afterwards, I planned to ask them questions about the story, what God did for or to the people in the story they chose, and how that story can teach us about God. I just told the kids to pick a story, though.

The first group huddled for a moment, and then one excited blond girl popped up and asked, "Can we do it as a play???" Well, I don't see how I could possibly say no to that, so the five of them ran into the other room to rehearse.

When both groups were ready to perform, the drama team came out and presented the story of Jesus' birth. One girl played Mary, one boy played a dancing, silent Joseph, one girl played the baby, one girl narrated, and one boy played a cow. (Just before going on, he'd said to me, "I'm not mooing! I'm not being a cow!" And I said to him, "Look, I'm playing a dolphin in the show I'm in now. You can be a cow for five minutes." Thus, we had an acting, mooing cow.) However, when they got to the part about the angels and the shepherds, they had no one to play the parts. I thought about asking if having two actors play a cow and a baby were as important as acting out the shepherd and angels, but this wasn't a drama lesson, it was a Bible lesson.

The next group told their story afterward. It was not a Bible story; they had decided to write their own. (Again, I don't know how I can discourage such things and not be a hypocrite) It went something like this:
There once was a carpenter who had no children, so he made a puppet. When he went out one day, God came down and made the puppet come to live, so the carpenter adopted the puppet as his son, but he didn't tell anybody about it. Then one day, while he was gone (seems the man was out a lot, doesn't it?), his house caught fire, and the whole thing burned down. And he returned home and saw it burnt to the ground and cried out, "No! My son!" And all of his neighbors said, "What? You never had a son."
The end.

Yeah. Let that one sink in for a moment.

The moral of that particularly cheerful parable is that you have to tell people about Jesus, or nobody will know.

And then, it was off to game time!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Day Thirty-Four: A nice, low-key V-Day

Tonite was nice. Kim and I found a date for Robbie (thanks again, Sarah!), had dinner at home (some pasta Kim made and a shrimp ring she'd been saving for a special occasion) then headed out for ice cream at Cold Stone (because we had a coupon) and then off to my workplace to see John, His Story (because we could get in free). It was by far the most low-key Valentines date I think we've ever had, and it was very nice. We didn't do gifts this year; we really didn't worry about anything other than getting an evening out together.

Call it an economically-recessed-Valentines, if you will.

Or don't, if you won't.

As we pulled into Cold Stone, it looked like we were in luck. I could see in the storefront window, and the store was mostly empty. We wanted to get to the theater in plenty of time, so while we weren't in a major rush we were conscious of the time.

Then, an SUV pulls into a spot across from the one I plan to use. The door opens and out pop three...four...five...six...SEVEN...EIGHT...NINE women, most of them teenagers. And we all know where this gaggle of gals is headed this Valentines Day.

If I can make a swift, smooth turn into the spot and Kim and I jump out of the car, we can get in the store before we're stuck behind ALL of them in line!

No!!! Car can't quite make a turn of that radius without backing up! And by that time, they're all trekking from their car into the creamery--walking directly behind my car, of course, preventing me from backing up to pull into the spot until every last one of them is by us and on her way into the store.

Well, drat.

Hope you all had a pleasant 14th, whether you called it Valentines' Day, Singles Awareness Day, or Saturday!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Day Thirty-Three: Haiku?

Gee, what happens when
Will can't think of anything
for writing? Haiku.

Pride and Prejudice.
Sense and Sensibility.
Jane Austen wrote those.

Pizza sure sounds good.
Economic recession!
No pizza tonight...

Does anyone else
remember watching Go-Bots?
Nope. Transformers won.

Goldfish make great pets.
Apparently good snack food?
Children are confused.

What's with all of these
Facebook surveys recently?
We all need real lives.

Hero Squad. Villains.
Princess. No-laundry-Fridays?
Saturdays smell bad.

I do like spinach.
Robbie likes spinach a lot.
Robbie is my son.

I still want pizza.
And now I'm very hungry.
It's raining outside.

Lindy! The real one, that is.
She just got married.

I miss wallyball.
Haven't you played wallyball?
It is a great game.

This is the last one.
This may be a running gag.
The future will tell.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day Thirty-Two: Take a Trip on the Meat Ship

Wanna see something moderately gross? Clicky, clicky!

I'd say I can't even fathom how someone got the idea to try something like this, but in reality it's not too much of a stretch. Couple of guys sitting around talking about ships and funny materials with which to build ships, and eventually a guy comes up with the idea of a Meat Ship, the ship you can eat while you sail it. From there it's all a question of logistics, and then...voila. You've got a meat ship for no other reason than "Yes, we can." Why not?

Seventeen-thousand calories whenever this bad boy sets out from port. (Er, "port" in this instance being your oven, I guess)

What really amazes me on one level and doesn't surprise me at all on another is the amount of detail that went into this culinary art project. I mean they even made pirates made out of meat to crew the ship. Avast, Meaty!

You know, as much as I like bacon--and make no mistake, I truly do enjoy bacon--I cannot fathom going anywhere near this particular dish.

And in case you wonder where I find things like this on the Internet, I suggest you check out Dave Barry's blog. Assuming, of course, you're okay with completely off-color humor from time to time and wholly unnecessary references to just about anything that could be considered unnecessary.

If not, then just trust me, I'll probably link to most of the cool stuff on here when I have a day with nothing of my own to say.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day Thirty-One: John-Boy

Apparently I've been doing this for a full month now. Woot. One-twelfth of the way done.

******SPOILER WARNING: The rest of this post contains massive spoilers for the children's play The Hero Squad vs. The Princess Snatchers. If you're reading this, you probably already know, but if you don't wanna know, then good night, John-Boy. We'll see ya tomorrow******

So as I was watching my show from a window in the sound booth today (one of my favorite ways to watch a show, especially a show like this, is somewhere where I can clearly see and hear both the actors AND the stage management staff and run crew. It's two shows in one, folks, and sometimes it's hard to tell which is more entertaining) As I watched, I realized that an unexpected thing has happened in me over the last month and a half I've spent with this production.

At some point, the arrogant, self-serving, turncoat Good Knight John-Boy became a tragic character in my mind.

Arthur Miller (he wrote some plays once) said that tragedy works when there's an opportunity for the protagonist not to fall. To Miller, it's just not as interesting if the poor guy or gal is doomed from the start, nothing they can do about it, and then in the end, big surprise, they get screwed and only then do they realize they never had a chance to begin with. Instead, there have to be opportunities for the protagonist to avoid his or her fate, and they just miss them for some reason or another, and that's what makes it tragic.

Thus, I have recently realized, we have the story of the Good Knight John-Boy, Metro Valley's loner superhero/champion, resting comfortably on a career of victories against impossible odds, undoing evildoers to the adoration of the masses. Here comes a bad guy who's finally figured out the secret to taking out the GKJB (at least he claims he has) and who uses that information to blackmail him into cooperating with the evil scheme. In the end, John-Boy realized he can never go back into hero work after what he's done gets out, so he decides to stick with the bad guy (and subsequently is defeated and sent to jail).

The hero falls.

Of course, I've written John-Boy to be a terribly unsympathetic character. From his first appearance, he's a jerk to the Hero Squad, telling them to go home and quit their games, despite the fact that they've just handled themselves quite well against some nasty ninjas. Throughout the show, he demonstrates that he's more concerned with his own image then righting wrongs or saving the day. He taunts the heroes, even before becoming a villain. He's occasionally crude. He's above everyone else.

And yet...

I've been realizing recently how many opportunities arise for John-Boy to do the right thing. He finally faces a threat that he can't handle alone, and he caves totally. He gets caught in the act of attempting to abduct the princess by two of the heroes, and that would be a perfect opportunity to come clean, rally the troops, and take out the bad guy. But to do so would be to admit a weakness, and he can't do that, so instead he makes up some lame excuse and gets away. Then, the princess comes to John-Boy late that night looking for help, and again, the opportunity to tell the truth and ask for help presents itself. Instead, he takes her to Nikolai's lair. Even there, when Nikolai is preoccupied with the princess and John-Boy's got an opportunity to take him out while he's not paying attention, he doesn't do it. He's so sold out at that point that he goes from being powerful superhero to nothing more than a willing lackey.

Of course, he gets what's coming to him, and all is as it should be. That's one of the main points to the story, right? Nevertheless...he had so many opportunities to do the right thing! If the man would only have asked for help, he wouldn't have met the depowering, humiliating fate that befalls him. All he had to do was reach outside of himself for once.

And of course, we're all glad with the way things have turned out. Good wins, evil doesn't, woohoo. That's the point of heroes vs. villains in the Hero Squad universe.

But part of me watches and thinks, "It didn't have to be this way."

So I'm probably thinking too much into this, but hey. I spend 80% of this show with nothing to do, and I've been working on it for over three years in some capacity or other. Detailed character analysis was bound to come at some point.

Lunch is over. Back to work!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Day Thirty: Put down the shotgun...

...I think we're going to be okay.

Certain circumstances around work need to take care of themselves, and the speculation is more than enough to drive me out of my gourd. ("Out of my gourd?" Where exactly did I pick that phrase up from?? JCG, I think) Seriously, though. There's always a worst-case-scenario, and if we end up at worst-case-scenario, then I anticipate a lot of "THOSE days" leading to a meltdown at some point.

Not too much I can do about that right now, though, so on with life!

I've still got a good show up and running right now. We're basically sold out for both shows this Saturday, and we'll have a good crowd Friday night, too, I'm pretty sure. Got a very encouraging email from a longtime season ticket holder the other day, and the folks at my church are still talking about it. Huge, huge, huge bummer that we don't have any Saturday shows the last two weekends of the run, because I know a lot of folks who aren't going to get in because of it.

The show John, His Story is opening on our mainstage this weekend. I haven't seen it yet, but I have seen it in an earlier production and I highly recommend it, folks. Great Valentines date! (Kim and I are going, anyway!) Great President's Day celebration! Heck, probably a great St. Patrick's Day event, so long as you go drinking or eating corned beef and cabbage afterwards. (There is wine in the show) Seriously, this is the show that renewed my belief that Christian theatre could possibly not suck. Come see.

And if you're poor like me, remember, volunteer ushers see the show for free! ;-)

Side note: Skillet's Collide is just a fantastic CD. I mean it. Fantastic.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Day Twenty-Nine: One of THOSE days

You ever have one of those days that you'd just like to shoot in the kneecaps with a 12-gauge? I don't have those days often, but this was definitely one.

Also, what's with blogspot? My blog page tells me I have twenty-eight posts so far, but the page I see when I first log in says I've written twenty-nine. If you were watching this blog terribly closely this afternoon, you'd have noticed the day number for the past five entries changing not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES due to this confusion!

Fortunately, I think I've got everything straightened out now.

And no, that was not the cause of my 12-gauge kneecap day ;-)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day Twenty-Eight: Deleted!!!

Wait...what happened to Day Twenty-Eight????

Oh, it was here, friends. And it was long.

And it was a risk I'm apparently not ready to take.

Interesting how a good night's sleep and a day of unsettling propositions can change one's perspective on certain things, is it not?

Don't be fooled, friends. Silence is a killer.

Ambiguity ends...NOW!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day Twenty-Seven: Multiples of Nine

Twenty-seven is a multiple of nine.

I learned my nines by watching Square One on PBS. There was some annoying country and western song that taught that, when dealing with a two-digit number, the number is a multiple of nine if you add the two digits together and you get nine. Thus, 27. 2+7=9. 3x9=27. Get it? Other multiples of nine = 18, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, and 81. And 90, of course.

Anywho, that's how I learned my multiples of nine, and to this day any time I see one of the numbers above, I think about that dag-blasted country song from Square One. (All I really remember about it is that the chorus featured a whiny sounding lady singing "Nine, nine, nine!", but I suppose it did its job)

Update: My sister informs me that, in the state of Kansas at least, they no longer teach students to memorize their multiplication tables. What the crap???

Friday, February 6, 2009

Day Twenty-Six: Weekend plans

Sister's in town for the weekend, so I may get caught up in family things and forget to blog one day at some point. I don't expect to, but if I do, I promise I'll make two posts the next day to make up for it.

I've never really liked IAH airport because it's much bigger and more crowded (and a bit further away) than nice little Hobby; however, I've found that after 10 p.m. it can be a fairly pleasant place to meet someone! Plus, there's a Sonic nearby, whereas I think all you get coming out of Hobby is McDonald's (or Denny's if you've got time to sit down to eat)

Now, I've got to figure out how I'll get my sister back to the airport on

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day Twenty-Five: Special Delivery!

Two things today:

First, I've fixed the comments option, so now anybody can leave me a comment! Whoo! (Though I still like getting emails, so if you're determined to drop me a line that way, please continue)

Second, I don't know what exactly it is about this link here (okay, that's a lie. I know exactly what it is. It's the music), but I have a feeling we may have our first Wannabewordslinger running gag! Huzzah! (My initial reaction: 'Wow. I thought the Bottlenose Boys were silly...')

Ah, okay, speaking of which: (Three things today, it turns out) The boss came to see Hero Squad last week before it opened. She didn't understand it, she couldn't follow it, and she didn't like it. She did, however, say that she laughed at the dolphins. She didn't understand them, she didn't know who they were or why they were there, but their antics were funny, so she laughed. She asked who they were. Our children's theatre director informed her they were the Bottlenose Boys. She said "Ah, that's funny. See, I never got that. I th ink that could be clarified."

Now I asked (and this was not to be ornery; you'd really have to know my boss to understand that I'd been hearing the "I didn't understand, that could be clarified" comment for at least 20 minutes by this point) how she felt this could be made more clear.

"Given," I started, "that he says twice before their entrance, 'I'm going to call out some henchmen to bring the heroes out of hiding,' and then the line immediately before they enter is 'Bring me the Bottlenose Boys,' his next line is 'You are the Bottlenose Boys?', his next line is 'What happened to the other Bottlenose Boy,' and his line after that is 'If you are not the Bottlenose Boys, what should I call you?' How would you suggest I make it any clearer than that?"

She didn't know, but she was sure there was a way it could be done.

Incidentally, today she offered to help me with my playwrighting. Huzzah!

Now go click on the link above and enjoy the antics of Louie the Bear if you haven't already.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Day Twenty-Four: Of prophets

Did I mention on here that I'm starting my own Bible study on the O.T. prophets? Well I am.

I meant to start last weekend, but I came to two obstacles:

1) It wasn't a part of my daily routine, so I would completely forget about it when the opportunity arose, and

2) I didn't know where to start.

In all honestly, I love the prophets. Pretty much all of them. My original plan was just to go through the minor prophets, but then I started thinking about Ezekiel and decided I may as well go through the big guns while I was at it. Then I started contemplating all those great prophets who did not get their own books, poor guys, like Elijah and his sequel, Elisha, and Samuel and Nathan and So On and Soforth. At one point, I contemplated just going all the way back to "In the beginning, God created..." so that I could have proper historical perspective for everything.

Thing is, I've started reading the Bible straight through at least five times (and I believe I've finished two of those times). I've read lots of Genesis through Judges, and I'm afraid if I started there I'd start skimming, thinking "Yeah, yeah, I've got this part," and that's not the point of this study.

Anyway, I've settled on 1st Samuel. Yes, there are prophets in the Bible before Sam, but 1st Samuel seems to be the point where they become A-listers within the narrative of the story of God's people.

So, after much delay and internal debate, I am off to pick up with poor Hannah's desperate prayer, and away we go from there!

And then, I've got a load of dishes to do.

These woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And dishes to do before I sleep.

Or something like that.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day Twenty-Three: What rhymes with orange?

First, I would like to say that yes, I do pay attention at our Tuesday morning Bible studies, and quite often I get some great spiritual depth from these sessions.

However, because I am so easily distracted, I often get side-tracked at some point along the path, and come up with things like this:

Today we had a guest speaker, a wonderful woman named Barbara who usually comes in the first Tuesday of every month. She's a joy, and it's always a blessing to have her. I absolutely love this woman's perspective on life. However, she and I think differently. I'm more into word images, she's more into physical images, and both are fine, it just means that I sometimes lose out on the profundity of her illustrations because my mind took them elsewhere.

Not sure I explained as clearly as I could, but oh well. We press onward.

This morning's illustration was about things that we hold on to. She used one of my favorite verses (Test all things. Hold on to what is good). Before we got to that verse, however, she told us to all hold out our hands as if we were holding something. We all cupped our hands obediently. She said to really make sure we had something there. Thinking literally, I tried to picture something physical, and the exercise became one in pantomime, which I realized at the time was probably not the goal, but anyway, I envisioned a small, round orange in my two hands. Then she quoted the verse above (the one in the parentheses) and asked what are the good things we hold on to. Someone said "my child," someone "the Word of God," someone "my brothers and sisters in Christ," etc. So I quickly banished the orange from my mind and replaced it with more metaphorical items like family, joy, assurance of salvation in Christ, and so on and so forth.

At least, I tried. But part of me said, "Nope, you had an orange first." And they were gone, and the orange was back.

I tried very hard to be spiritual, but there was that danged imaginary orange rolling around in my cupped hands. By now, my mind had embraced the absurdity of the situation, so then it was impossible to get properly back on track. And Barbara asked what things we hold on to that we need to let go of.

Imaginary orange.

Anyway, we eventually moved on, and the rest of the study was great and moving and encouraging.

But I'm still a little ashamed that everyone else was holding fast to the blessings of God, and I missed out because all I had in my hands was an imaginary orange.

But hey. If all God gave me in this life was an orange, you can be dang sure I would not be letting that sucker go.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day Twenty-Two: There's something sad in this...

Unfortunately, I know very few people who will find this little tidbit from the Daily Egyptian to be nearly as funny as I found it.

Fortunately, most of those few at least look at this blog from time to time.

More to come...

Update #1: Okay, seriously. Stop.

Update #2: And because two links to not a post make, how about we check out a preview of Neil Gaiman's upcoming Batman storyline?

Day Twenty-One: What a game!!!

Man. Was that ever a WEIRD Super Bowl!

From Pittsburgh's opening drive TD take-back (which was, I think, the right call) to their end-of-first-half 100 yd interception return which was almost taken back (which I wasn't as sure on, which I suppose means it was the right call according to the rulebook) to the (seemingly) fifteen consecutive Arizona penalties to the major 4th-quarter comeback from Kurt Warner's boys to the last-minute heartbreak and the (apparently) non-reviewable fumble with five seconds to go. Crazy, crazy times all around.

So it appears I was right about the winner, but wrong about the game. It was a great game to watch, and I had a good time hanging out at the church for the first three quarters (before Robbie was too sleepy to stay any longer).

Hope you all enjoyed your weekend. Time to get not-enough sleep so I can go back to work tomorrow!