Wednesday, August 31, 2011

v2, d405: Another one

Today, an NHL player was found dead in Toronto.  Wait, does it seem like I already wrote one of these posts this summer?  Oh that's right, it's because I did.

Wade Belak is actually the third current NHLer to pass away this summer.  The second, Winnipeg forward Rick Rypien, took his own life on August 15th following a 10-year bout with depression.  Boogaard (linked above) was eventually declared to have died from a fatal combination of alcohol and painkillers. 

I'll tell you what, this summer can't end soon enough for the hockey world. 

Here's Wyshynski's fantastic recap of the event and the immediate fallout.  This write up from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post is good, too, for a more personal angle.  Belak has always been what you might call a fringe NHL player, so much so that I had actually forgotten that he used to be an Av. 

Nothing said about a cause of death yet.  An early rumor said suicide, a later report said no, definitely not suicide, and a still later report on CBC said yes, suicide.  I don't know what to make of it.  After Boogaard's death, it was revealed that he'd had a history with substance abuse.  Even before Rypien died, it was pretty well-known that he was dealing with a lot of personal demons.  But Belak...from everything I've picked up over the course of the evening, he was happily married, a great friend, fun to hang around, well-adjusted, a proud papa, and fresh out of retirement/ready to take on a broadcast job with the Predators (his last team).  He was Tweeting about how excited he was to be on the upcoming season of Battle of the Blades (sort of Dancing with the Stars, but on ice)   Then today, dead. 

There are so many things about this that are just terrible.  He has two daughters, ages seven and five.  His wife reportedly found out about the death via the news.  'Cause when you've got a scoop, you can't sit on it for thirty damn minutes while the police find a way to contact the widow...

All three of these guys were enforcers.  Thugs/tough guys/policemen/fighters.  They all mean pretty much the same thing.  Which means there are folks who are already blaming fighting in hockey for all three deaths.  Look, I don't know weather playing the tough-guy role for fifteen years had something to do with this death or not.  It may have been one of those random fatal heart attacks that sometimes happen to healthy 35-year-old men.  But come on, folks.  Now is not the time for the argument. 

For now, the hockey world just wants to mourn for a little bit.  When the time's right, let the people in charge look at all the facts (which we still don't have yet) and figure out what, if anything, needs to be done to keep these things from happening.  (For the record, both the Rypien and Boogaard families went on record to talk about all the help, support, and resources the NHL provided to help Rick and Derek get through their respective issues) 

In the meantime, this whole thing is just sad. 

v2, d404: Haiku

Due to Internet
Error, Haiku Blog now on
Day Four-Oh-Four.  Ha.  

Sorry, library.
Not going to finish this
One on time. Renew.

Five good running backs.
Only three good receivers.
Unfortunate, that.

Dinosaurs fit well
Into haiku poetry.

Went to a middle
School once where kids were kissing
In the halls. That's gross.

Ocean waves recede.
Sun sets o'er a peaceful shore.
Humboldt squid attack.

Playing cards with clowns.
Water skiing with angels.
Hot dogs before bed.

I need to go to
Toronto.  No, I mean it.
Hockey Hall of Fame.

Earthquakes are rumbling.
The earth's surface is shifting.
I'm watching TV.

Seven skinny cows
Ate the seven fat cows. I
Bet their tummies hurt.

See that last haiku?
It was straight up Biblical.
Jesus is real, y'all.

Andrew Lloyd Weber.
He wrote lots of musicals.
Andrew Lloyd Weber.

I'm ready to go
To bed. I miss sleeping.  I
Miss writing more, though.

Man I hope Isaac
Takes a few naps tomorrow.
Good nite, ev'ryone!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

v2, d403: Hold

I just finished a Haiku post, and guess what?  Yup, either blogger or firefox got confused and half of it disappeared.  So rather than hastily try to throw the last few back together, I'm going to save it and finish it up tomorrow.  Because it's 2 a.m. and I'm tired enough to go to sleep. 

So, look forward to tomorrow's haiku post, I guess.  G'nite!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

v2, d402: Sick. Blarg.

I think I'm finally on the upswing from whatever random illness I've been experiencing the past few days.  That's good. 

Sherri came down for a visit, so I invited some fellow OBU alumni over and we had a mini reunion at my apartment Wednesday night.  The next day, I was sick.  By Friday, I wanted nothing but sleep.  No food, no drink, no love.  Just sleep.  (I'm kidding.  I still wanted love.)  So, Sherri's visit was probably pretty lame, because she was pretty much babysitting one of the boys just about the whole time she was here since I was crashing in bed reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn most of the time she was here. 

It seems that, every time I get incapacitatingly ill, I have company over for the weekend.  My theory is that my body says, "Okay, it's okay now, there's someone else to help Kim with the boys, NOW YOU WILL PAY FOR SLEEPING FOUR HOURS EVERY NIGHT!!!!"  Regardless, my parents are coming down for an extended weekend over Labor Day, so at least now I know I won't have to be worried about being sick while they're here now that it's out of my system. 

Of course, Isaac seems to have caught it now.  Here's hoping the rest of the family isn't sick when my folks are down. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

v2, d401: And what's worse, you're too young to even enjoy the "free sticker" perk

Yesterday was Isaac's 6-month checkup.  Only we'd missed his 4-month checkup due to the wedding in San Diego, so the pediatrician took his 6-month information and then gave his 4-month shots.  (Fortunately, there are no scheduled shots for the 9-month checkup, so we'll get all caught up in November.  This is, apparently, Not Really A Big Deal)

The visit went pretty well.  Isaac was his usual content self in the waiting room, and while he didn't particularly like being turned this way and that (Let's see if he can sit up.  Look at that!  Now what happens when we put him on his tummy?  Oh, he doesn't like that...) he was overall cool with everything that was going on.  He's like that. 

Then came the shots.  Man, was it ever sad. The nurse laid Isaac down on the little table, and he was all giggly and smiling up at me, and then she pinched his chubby little thigh, (10th percentile for length but 50th percentile for weight + 90th percentile for head circumference = rolly poly boy!) and suddenly his face just distorted into a mask of sheer agony.  The wailing happened a moment later.  And it didn't really increase in fervor as she stuck him twice more (two in one leg, one in the other) because he really couldn't be any more upset than he was during that first injection.  And the look on his face wasn't only one of pain.  There was a lot of sadness there, too.  He had no clue why this was happening to him, and it had come out of nowhere.  It was one of the saddest things I think I've ever seen in person. 

Fortunately, the nurse worked quickly and then (just as quickly) left the room, leaving me to try to comfort my terror-stricken child.  I picked him up, patted his back, and said reassuring things to him as he continued to scream as loud as he could.  Eventually, he did calm down, but he still clung to me shirt with a death grip.  We waited another fifteen minutes before the doctor came back (I guess they have the nurses do the shots so the kids won't develop an unhealthy fear of their pediatrician) and asked if we were waiting on anything.  I told her no one had told me we were free to go yet.  Surprised, she said, "Oh, you can go!  Sorry about that!"  The nurse had skulked so quickly away that she hadn't remembered to dismiss us.  She even gave a somewhat guilty-looking smile as she left, which was a bit surprising because I figured once you've done this professionally for a while, you've developed a thick skin against babies looking at you as if you were the Betrayer himself. 

Anyway, Isaac was pretty worn out by the time we got out of the building, so he slept the whole way home.  All this had happened during his usual lunch time, so when he woke up he was starving and still mad, so he was so upset he didn't actually finish his lunch.  I got him to go to sleep again for a little while, but he woke soon after with a fever.  I gave him some baby Tylenol and a bottle and he finally started to calm down.  He even went down for another nap.  It seemed he'd slept pretty much all day. 

Up until bed time, that is.  Not surprisingly, he slept fitfully, and at about 3 a.m. (when I was finishing cooking up some burgers for tonight's dinner--hey, if you're gonna be up at 3 a.m. you may as well make yourself useful!) Kim brought him in the kitchen because he was wide awake and would not sleep. (This was just after Robbie had unexpectedly awaken, groaning for a drink of water)  I spent quite a bit of time getting Isaac to sleep, and as soon as I was done with him I heard Robbie crying again (now it's 4 a.m.).  Robbie had taken the cup I'd brought to him earlier, taken it into his bed with him, and spilled it everywhere. 

I fell asleep at about 4:30 this morning.  (I should mention that I was already so exhausted from the day's drama that I had accidentally dozed for an hour or so while putting Robbie to bed earlier)  So really, nobody slept regularly last night, and everybody was tired today.  Isaac was still fussy and kind of feverish most of the day, and Kim came home from work early so I could get a bit of an afternoon nap after sleeping fewer than three hours last night.  Needless to say, it was a weird 24 hours. 

And then Will and Jada Smith split up and there was an earthquake on the East Coast.  The world has gone mad since these shots.  Mad, I tell you! 

All right, my head kinda hurts, and I got my chores for tonight done, so I'm going to go ahead and turn in at a nice early 1:30 tonight.  After all, I've got a fairly busy day planned for tomorrow. 

v2, d400: Distraction, Thy Name Is....That Guy

Confession time. 

While it's true that some of my irregular blogging of late has been caused by sleeping issues (last night I couldn't fall asleep until close to 4), an equally unhealthy portion of it has come from my discovery of the Internet sensation known as the Nostalgia Critic over on  This guy makes me laugh.  A lot.  And even when I say, "Okay, only one (twenty-minute) video tonight," I usually end up on this site for close to an hour. 

This isn't saying I can necessarily recommend NC. He's really funny, his videos are well-edited, and he's giving fairly in-depth reviews of all manner of pop culture film/television sensations from our childhood.  (There are also a ton of other similar reviewers hosted on TGWTG's site, but I haven't really found one that's worth its salt yet.  They pretty seem much follow the same bewildered mockery/outrage motif, but none of them can do it nearly as well as NC)  However, the language is definitely R-rated.  That's not me being pious; according to MPAA standards it would be considered R-rated.  Also, the subject matter sometimes drifts into what my old college roommate would likely term "yerg territory."  My exposure to contemporary world theater has pretty much dulled me to language at coarse subject matter, but I can still recognize it and definitely wouldn't condone it.  So if you, like me, have very little chance of being offended by language and are in the need of some nostalgic criticism (and you have hours to spare), you may want to check his site out.  While some of the reviews can be hit and miss, most of the Top 11 lists are fantastic.  (What?  Me?  Addicted to a guy who does list/countdowns?  Shocker!) 

Again, this blog isn't necessarily intended to be an advertisement for NC, though I do know some of my readers would totally get a kick out of him.  Really, it's more my coming clean with why I haven't been writing much on here lately. 

If you happen to see me online, keep me accountable: No NC videos until I've done some writing, a blog, and any housework that needs done.  (I guess if you happen to see me late-night offline for any reason, you can hold me accountable, too) 

Because admitting you have a problem is the first step.

(Seriously though, I'll be getting back to this.  Sorry for the lapses.  Maybe tomorrow we can talk about taking Isaac to the doctor for shots) 

Friday, August 19, 2011

v2, d399: Chris Drury Retires

Chris Drury retired from the NHL today.  He's been one of my favorite NHL players since he came on to the scene with the Avs.  I still remember the day we traded him--as Dater points out in today's post, it was really the only boneheaded trade Pierre LaCroix ever made for the Avs.  Even after this past season--where Chris was banged up, injured most of the year, slow and ineffective after two years of injuries and surgeries--I and a lot of other Avs fans were hoping he might re-sign for a third- or fourth-line/penalty killer role.  (I think some of the Sabers fans wanted to see him back, too)  However, he decided his body just couldn't do it any more, and he hung 'em up. 

Robbie's middle name--Christopher--is taken from Chris Drury.  I loved the way he played, but I always respected the man he was off the ice as well as on it.  He played hard, but never dirty.  He never responded to crap in kind.  I remember an incident in Buffalo where he was hit into the board from behind with his head down and he missed some time with a serious head or neck injury (sorry, don't remember exactly which).  When asked by a reporter what he thought of the guy who did it to him, he only responded that it was in the past, there was no point dwelling on it, and he was going to put in the work he needed to get back on the ice and do his job.   He never sank below his own level of integrity. 

I won't go on and on about the guy, because there have been much better (and more concise) tributes posted today, and I'll just give you those.  First, Avs beat writer Adrian Dater's blog.  Second (and more highly recommended for the uninitiated), Puck Daddy editor Greg Wyshynski

Drury was known for scoring "clutch goals."  He always seemed to come up big in the playoffs.  His four playoff overtime goals puts him in the company of Hall of Famers.  When Joe freaking Sakic says you're the most clutch player he's ever seen, that's saying something. Sure, people got tired of hearing that he pitched the winning game of the Little League World Series when he was 10, but that's just because every channel mentioned it every time his name came up.  The man did win the LLWS.  He also won a Hobey Baker Award, a Calder Trophy, two Olympic silver medals, and a Stanley Cup.  He also spent his day with the Stanley Cup visiting his college teammate Travis Roy, a guy whose career ended when he was paralyzed on his first shift of college hockey. While his career was on the decline, he was named to the US Olympic Hockey Team roster in 2010.  Said GM Brian Burke, "We picked Chris Drury because he's Chris Drury."  And of course, he scores two clutch goals in that tournament as well. 

Look, there were always better players than Drury, I know that.  But if you look at how many NHL personalities today put out congratulations or "best captain I ever played with"/"one of the classiest guys I've ever known" comments on their Twitter throughout the day, how many tribute blogs and stories were posted by sports networks across North America, and how many fans who wish he could have had one last year to end his career on a higher note than his 2010-11 season, you get the feeling that the guy is special. 

Incidentally, I do have a Top 7 Drury moments.  I won't make it as big a deal as my usual Top 7's, but here you go:

7. Drury's response to the hit from behind in Buffalo
6. Skating around all 5 Vancouver players for a last-minute goal against the Canucks
5. Drury and his boyhood idol, Ray Bourque, throughout the 2000-01 season. Lots of great hijinks/stories there
4. Jeremy Roenick publicly apologizing for questioning the selection of Drury to the 2010 Olympic squad
3. Game 5 vs Detroit in 2002, overtime winner.  (We lost the series anyway, but that was a glorious moment)
2. Telling Travis Roy's story on national TV
1. Of course, the Cup in 2001.  Drury's retirement leaves only 3 guys from that team (Hejduk, Tanguay, Reinprecht) still playing in the NHL.  

So, thank you, Chris, for being a role model and a leader. Thanks for the Cup in '01 and the consistent presence at USA Hockey.  Thanks for being the kind of guy I'd want to name a kid after. 

*sound of  alone stick tapping against the ice*

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

v2, d398: Deacons Meeting

I went to my first deacon's meeting tonight at church.  Which is good, because the staff is supposed to get to these monthly meetings whenever possible, and due to my work at ADP I missed every single one of them over the past year. 

Not really much to report, but I thought it noteworthy that I finally made it to one. 

Meanwhile, congratulations to all the Spotlighter Award winners!  (Will somebody please tell me who the Spoltlighter Award winners are?)

Monday, August 15, 2011

v2, d397: Just a Roll With a Hole

Too many words last night. Compensating with a couple of video clips from my late childhood/teenage years.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

v2, d396: Sixth

Why didn't I post last night?  Because I was angry that nobody commented on the musical script.

No, that's not true.  Actually, I didn't post because yesterday was Kim and I's sixth anniversary, and I was busy. A couple friends of ours came by to watch the boys so we could have our first night out since we went to the ballet about a month after Isaac was born.  (If you're wondering exactly how long ago that was, the answer is way too freaking long)  All things considered, we had a pretty low-key date, but then sometimes you don't feel like having a huge fancy expensive event.  Sometimes you just want a good burger and a movie.  We went to Pappas Burger (suggested slogan: We're Pretty Much Better Than Most Of Those Other Burger Places) and then to see Harry Potter 7.2, which somehow managed to be both pretty good and mildly disappointing at the same time.

Afterwards, I thought about sitting down to write some touching ruminations over the past six years of marriage. The longer I worked to put any such sentiment into words, however, the more convinced I became that it was more or less a lost cause.  Marriage isn't really something that can be understood through mere words.  Really, none of the most important things in life are.  You can't understand the sense of triumph of a person who recovers from near-total paralysis feels the first time they walk across a room unless you've been somewhere similar.  You can't truly empathize with the homeless unless you've spent an extended period not knowing where you'd next lay down your head.  You're never prepared for the first time you hold your own child.  No one else can understand the bond you share with the friend that scripture says "sticks closer than a brother."  And so on and so forth. 

Thus, six years of marriage.  Why bother to try to tell how hard it's been, how great it's been, how fun, how frustrating?  Those of you who have been there already know.  Those of you haven't don't know yet.  I look forward to the day you do, however.  That doesn't mean you can't share in our joy.  Far from it!  Celebration and sorrow are meant to be contagious.  Just because I haven't walked the path of your pain, that doesn't mean I won't hurt for you.  Likewise, the fact that I have no adequate frame of reference for your joy, I fully intend to party like it's...well, okay, I won't go there for once.  But you get the idea. 

On the other hand, I could be really wrong here.  It may just be that I'm not gifted enough with words to express my thoughts and emotions on such an event. (In other words: COP-OUT!)  However, I've read enough passages--in scripture, in books, in plays, in CD lyric sleeves--that only really made sense to me after I had a particular life experience to think there's likely a principle at play here. 

I recently attended my big sister's wedding.  Toward the end of the day, I told her I didn't think I'd ever been happier than I was that day.  She said, "Um, except maybe for your own wedding day?"  I shook my head and said, "I was too young."  That was the best I could explain it that night.  Given some more time for reflection, I think I know what I was getting at.  My wedding day was easily the happiest day of my life.  Up to that point.  But really, as prepared as we were, and as much prayer and thought and counseling as we had put into our three-plus-year relationship, I didn't really know what I was getting.  I said the vows whole-heartedly, not realizing they'd become more profound and meaningful every time I'd hear them the rest of my life.  I think I've come to prefer the "traditional" vows because they're often a more realistic depiction of what your life is going to be than the original vows couples usually write for one another.  (Don't get me wrong, I love it when the bride and groom write vows for each other.  It's always a great moment and a real tears-of-happiness moment in any wedding, but I hope they at least look over the "old school" vows at some point in the process)  You know, the old "for rich or poor, in good times or bad, in sickness and health."  Because bad times and sickness are coming sooner than you expect, and they're probably not going to be your faults, and they sure as heck won't be fair, and they're going to come out of nowhere, but there they'll be.  So that's why the older vows are so general. It's hard to vow to be a good spouse through months of bed rest, through the cashing in of the vacation spare change jar to pay a bill, through two a.m. runs to the ER with one of the boys, through emotionally abusive bosses, through hurricanes, and any number of other difficulties which will blind-side you at some point or other over just the next few years!  So you just say "in good times and bad" and "in sickness and in health" and "for richer or poor," and that pretty much covers everything.  :-) 

But yes, back to my sister's wedding.  I know I've mentioned here my theory that your capacity for...well, anything really...increases as your life unfolds, provided you are living a healthy emotional life.  As you learn to love unselfishly, your capacity to love increases, and as that happens, so does your ability to share joy, and as that increases so too does your capacity for pain, etc.  I think I worded this better last time.  If not, I'll keep working on it until it makes sense.  Anyway, my wedding day was the happiest I'd ever been in my life.  But my marriage, my friendships, my children, my capacity at the church, these things have enhance my ability to feel the whole range of emotions. And on my sister's wedding day, seeing her so happy, standing at the event I'd been praying for for years, and feeling so convinced that the union is indeed blessed by the Almighty, plus having an inkling of the many unexpected ways God is going to turn their lives upside down and the unexpected joys they will share...I was really overwhelmed with happiness.  I was probably happier than I was even at my own wedding, possibly even happier than the day my boys were born, because my marriage and my boys have helped make me a man who can be happier. 

Geez, does that make any sense now that it's out of my head?  I think this post has ended up being far longer and more convoluted than my initial attempts to adequately describe the joys of six years of marital bliss. 

Okay, I'll just close with this.  Really, this is the only important part of this blog anyway:

First, thanks and praise to God, who gives all good gifts, for not only giving me the gift of my wife but for giving us the strength and endurance to hang on to it through life's violent attempts to wrench it away from us. 
Second, thanks to all of our friends and family members who have encouraged us, supported us, and prayed for us over the nearly ten years we've known one another (as well as the nearly twenty years we didn't know each other).  You've cooked for us, taken care of kids for us, helped us out when we didn't have the money to make it, and provided much-needed light in times of darkness.  I wish I could express exactly how much I love and appreciate each of you. (Great, now I have to write a post about how I can't write a post to tell you how much I love and appreciate each of you) 
Third...actually, I think that covers just about anybody who will read this.  Except, of course, for the lovely lady who changed my life by laughing at a lame joke on a bus on the road to Arkansas in the fall of 2001.  I love you.  Though hopefully you don't have to read a lame blog to know that. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

v2, d395: The Musical!

AT RISE: JOSH, HAYDEN, HOWARD, and OTHER CHILDREN are assembled on stage, waiting for rehearsal to begin.  SCOOTER enters, carrying a clipboard and dialing on a cell phone. 

JOSH: Hey, Scooter, shouldn’t we be getting started with rehearsal?
SCOOTER: Sorry guys.  We’ve got to wait until everybody’s here.  We’ll get started as soon as we can.  (She exits, talking into the phone as she goes)  Hello?  Is she almost here?  Well we’re fifteen minutes late!
HAYDEN: Who are we waiting for?  I thought everybody was already here. 
(KAREN  runs onstage, excited)
BILL: What’s wrong, Karen? 
ASHLEY: Yeah, what is it? 
KAREN: You guys will never guess what I just heard!  You know who Destiny Starlight is, right?
HOWARD: That girl who has, like, six of her own shows on the Disney Channel?
MELLIE: I have all of her CD’s! 
CINDY: I love her movie!
KAREN: Well, it turns out her great aunt’s second cousin’s nephew’s brother-in-law’s foster father’s sister’s favorite cousin goes to our church! 
HAYDEN: Okay.  But what does that have to do with Music Camp rehearsal?
KAREN: I just heard that she’s going to show up to be in our play!
(KIDS react with general excitement.  SCOOTER re-enters)
HAYDEN: Scooter!  Is it true that Destiny Starlight is really going to be in our Music Camp play???
SCOOTER: It was supposed to be a surprise….
(KIDS give up a cheer and high-five one another)
SCOOTER: Of course, if she doesn’t show up soon we’ll just have to start without her…
(DESTINY arrives in style, adorned in any way you’d expect to find a Hollywood teen pop sensation)
DESTINY: Hello, beautiful people!
(KIDS—especially the girls—crowd around her.  A couple of the kids may scream)
A KID: I can’t believe it!  It’s really her!
ANOTHER KID: Destiny Starlight!  It’s Destiny Starlight!
ANOTHER KID: Can I have your autograph? 
ANOTHER KID: Will you be my friend?
ANOTHER KID: Is Destiny your real name?
DESTINY: It’s called a stage name.
HOWARD: What’s a stage name?
DESTINY: You see, when you’re someone like me, the name your parents give you isn’t enough to capture all the magic that makes you a star.  So you have to pick out a new name that fits your personality.
SCOOTER: Hi, Destiny, my name is Scooter, and I’m in charge of our rehearsals…
DESTINY: Right, right.  Sorry I was late, but I just finished recording my voice for my newest movie.  It’s a cartoon, I play a unicorn princess.  Oh trust me, you’ll hear about it. 
SCOOTER: We really need to get started if we can…
DESTINY: I know, I know.  What’s the show about again?
KAREN: Every year, we do a concert of the music we learned in Bible school for our church!
DESTINY: Isn’t that cute?  All right, start the first song.
SCOOTER: But we should probably teach you the dance first…
DESTINY: Listen, Skipper…is it Skipper?
SCOOTER: It’s Scooter…
DESTINY: Right, Skipper, Scooter, whatever.  Let me tell you how it works in showbusiness.  In showbusiness, the star does what the star does, and everybody else just makes it look good.  Okay?  So you go start the little song, okay?  Thanks.  Get in your places, everybody!
SCOOTER: But…but…(she sighs) okay…(She exits to start the song as everyone get into their places.  Music starts. Song: SONROCK KIDS CAMP.  About halfway through the song, DESTINY beings to invent some of her own choreography, which occasionally gets in the way of other students.  At the very end of the song, she bumps into KAREN, sending her toppling)
JOSH: Hey, you just knocked her over!
DESTINY: She shouldn’t have been standing there. 
HAYDEN: You need to apologize to her!
DESTINY: (bewildered) Why?
HAYDEN: Why I oughtta… (she prepares to punch DESTINY, but JOSH and HOWARD hold her back)
KAREN: It’s okay. I’m okay.
SCOOTER: All right, everybody get in place for the next song.  Peter Was a Fisherman. (Kids go to get into places.  HAYDEN and JOSH help KAREN to her feet)
DESTINY: I assume I’m playing the Peter guy in this song?
SCOOTER: Um…no, actually.  You’ll have to be in the chorus.
DESTINY: The chorus?  I don’t do chorus.  I don’t think you read my contract.
SCOOTER: This is Music Camp. We don’t have contracts.  
DESTINY: I only do leads.  If this song is about this Peter guy, then I have to be him.
HAYDEN: Peter is Josh’s part.  He’s practiced it, so he’s going to do it. 
DESTINY: Has Josh ever played a unicorn princess in a major animated movie?  Yeah.  Didn’t think so. 
HAYDEN: But at least he’s a boy.  You know, like Peter.
KAREN: What if we let Destiny be, like, Peter’s wife?  And she can be in the boat with him for the song.
HOWARD: Actually, in the story in the Bible, Peter’s wife was not in the boat with him. 
DESTINY: Yeah, okay.  As long as I get to be in the boat, that should work. 
SCOOTER: But..but…(sighs) okay…Here we go, everyone.  (Song: Peter Was a Fisherman.  JOSH plays PETER and HOWARD or another boy plays Jesus.  Once she realizes Peter’s wife is not a major player in the story, DESTINY again begins to make up her own “part,” taking over the scene by the very end.  By the end of the song, she has pushed JOSH over, much like what happened with KAREN at the end of the first song)
KAREN: Josh, are you okay? 
JOSH: Sure…
HAYDEN: Unicorn princess or no, you don’t have any right to come in here and push our people around…
DESTINY: I just gave the song what I thought it was missing.
HOWARD: What’s that?  Ice hockey?
DESTINY: Strong female characters.  Role models for girls, you know? 
SCOOTER: This isn’t going so well.  We’d better just rehearse the next song.  Everybody, get in  your places for Walking On the Water. 
 ASHLEY: Sweet!  I like this song!
DESTINY: Am I Gloria again?
JOSH: Gloria?  Who’s Gloria? 
DESTINY: Peter’s wife.  I decided she needed a name.  
KAREN: Actually, why don’t you take the solo in this song?
DESTINY: Solo?  Yeah…you’re right, we need to show off my singing skills some more.   (She begins warming up her singing voice with scales while the other kids huddle downstage)
HOWARD: But Karen, that was supposed to be Scooter’s solo. 
KAREN: I know, but if we let Destiny be in the song again, she might really hurt someone. 
SCOOTER: She’s right, Howard.
JOSH: We have got to do something about that girl. 
BILL: She might sing like an angel, but she sure don’t act like an angel!
HAYDEN: Oh, I’ll do something about her all right!
KAREN: Hayden!  Don’t hit her!
HAYDEN: Why not?
HOWARD: You remember what the New Testament says?  About turning the other cheek?
HAYDEN: I don’t want to turn another cheek. I want to punch her in the face! 
DESTINY: All right, I’m ready!  Let’s get this show on the road!
SCOOTER: Just stick together, guys.  We’ll get through this one. 
OTHERS: Right. (They break the huddle and perform the song WHO’S THAT WALKING ON THE WATER, with JOSH again playing PETER and the other boy from the last song playing JESUS again.  Since DESTINY is mostly by herself, the song goes off without incident)
SCOOTER: Great job, everybody.  Everyone sounded really good in that song!  Let’s run through…
DESTINY: I wouldn’t go that far.  I mean, everybody sounded okay, but you guys are pretty lucky I’m here. 
SCOOTER: Um, Destiny?  Do you think you could start talking a little nicer to everybody else? 
DESTINY: I’m not being mean.  I’m just stating a fact.  None of you guys would ever cut it in Hollywood.
SCOOTER: Okay, but we’re not in Hollywood.  And…this play isn’t all about you. 
JOSH: And we don’t care about having a big hit or being big stars.
DESTINY: Wow.  What kind of actors are you guys supposed to be? 
KAREN: That’s just it.  We’re not actors.  Not really. 
ASHLEY: We’re just kids who want to have some fun together and praise God with these songs.   
HAYDEN: Yeah, you know, God?  The one who gave you all of your talent and fame?  Seems like a guy you ought to be thankful to.  (BILL puts a hand on HAYDEN’S shoulder to calm her down a little bit)
HOWARD: I think you might be so busy making sure that you’re in the middle of the story, Destiny,  that you’re missing the whole point of the story. 
DESTINY: Wait…what?  I’m always in the middle of the story. 
BILL: Maybe that’s the problem. 
SCOOTER: Here, why don’t you sit over here and just watch these next couple of songs. 
DESTINY: Well…all right.  I could use a bit of a break after that last solo, anyway. (She sits off to the side during Keepin My Eyes on Jesus and How Great Is the Love)
DESTINY: You know what?  You guys really aren’t that bad after all.  And I can tell you all actually like each other.  That’s not something you see a lot of in Hollywood. 
JOSH: Well, like you said, we’re not exactly Major Movie material.  Shoot, I’ve never even been asked  to play a Unicorn Princess…
DESTINY: That was kind of a dumb thing for me to say, wasn’t it?  You guys are right, I’m just really used to being the most important person in the room.  I really haven’t been keeping my eyes on Jesus much at all lately. 
HAYDEN: I guess…I guess you’re not the only one.  I guess it hasn’t been very Christ-like of me to keep wanting to punch you in the face. Even if you have been really rude to all of my friends today.  So…I’m sorry about that. 
DESTINY: You’re sorry to me?  Aren’t I supposed to say that I’m sorry to all of you?
HAYDEN: Well, yeah.  But that doesn’t mean I’ve been much better than you have. 
KAREN: Why don’t you do the next one with us, Destiny? 
DESTINY: You want me to?
KAREN: Sure!
HOWARD: As long as you can do it with us.
BILL: And not knock anybody over in the process.
DESTINY: All right.  Thanks. (Song: You Will Be Saved.  After the song, everybody congratulates one another)
JOSH: All right!  We sounded awesome!
DESTINY: You’re right!  We did! 
SCOOTER: That’s just about all the time we have for this rehearsal, everybody.  Since we started late and everything.
DESTINY: That was my fault, too, wasn’t it?  I’m sorry, everybody.  And I’m sorry for bossing you around like that, Scooter.  And getting your name wrong.  Wow, I feel like I’ve been a really bad person today. 
SCOOTER: Thanks for apologizing, Destiny.  But we all have our bad days. 
KAREN: We’ve got another rehearsal tomorrow night.  Think you’ll be able to make it?
DESTINY: Yeah.  And maybe we’ll tone Gloria’s part down.  Just a little bit.  (Others laugh with her) I’m glad you all gave me another chance. 
HAYDEN: Well…I’m glad you’re here. 
DESTINY: Thanks.
SCOOTER:  All right, we’re all getting entirely too mushy.  What do you say we run through our last song and call it a night? 
ALL: SOUNDS GOOD!  (Last song: The Trail of Life) 

v2, d394: Miller Time!

Because it's awesome to go for the obvious joke, especially if it's an out-dated beer commercial pun.

Today was the Players' day at Miller Outdoor Theater.  We put up our production of The Hobbit.  It's always tough taking a show that was directed to play in a small in-the-round space that seats about one hundred fifty people and transferring it to a proscenium amphitheater that could potentially draw crowds of 3,000 or more.  You lose your proximity, you lose your blocking, you lose your lighting effects, and you can lose your mind trying to figure out how to make it all work for the second time without drastically rebuilding everything.  That said, I think most everything ended up working pretty well on Miller's stage.  The loss of lights impacted the show in a big way, because the dark, creepy atmosphere of the piece was largely impacted by the lighting design, but hey.  When the city wants to give you thousands of dollars to play for a larger audience than you're going to see all year in your own theater, you work with what you get. 

It was nice to be working on something theatrical again, even if just for the week, and even if I was just pressing buttons and helping unload.  I've never cared too much about my particular assignment once a production gets rolling (barring external circumstances, of course).  Tomorrow we'll have another show, and then tomorrow night I'll head back to the church to see how the kids did with the musical about kids rehearsing a musical. 

This is so fun, I might just go ahead and write another play sometime. 

And now, in celebration of going for the obvious joke at EVERY POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITY:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

v2, d393: I'm a hit!

(393 factored = 3,  131)

It's been a while since I've been this nervous about a script.  However, when the kids' music camp director at church mentioned that we'd have to order a script from the VBS company for a musical for our kids to perform (this was months ago), naturally I said, "Hey, no worries.  I'll just write something.  That will be free!"

Music camp began yesterday.  Actual scriptwriting started eight days ago at about 12:30 a.m.  Script completion occurred at about 4:00 a.m. that same day. And tonight, I went in to help with "the drama part" of the musical.  One of my kids had begged me at camp, "Mr. Will, please don't make it cheesy!  Most of our music camp scripts are so cheesy!"  To be honest, I didn't remember much from the three-point-five hour midnight writing session, so I had no idea if what I had written was cheesy or funny or even coherent.  I went in tonight to get the kids' reaction to this short piece that their super-cool children's director had written for them to perform for their parents.  Totally honest here: I was scared to hear what these kids would think. 

Now, this isn't necessarily because I doubt my ability to write something that kids will enjoy.  However, I was trying to tie the songs from VBS together into a story, and, um...well, some of the songs are Bible stories, some are about camping, and some are none of the above.  Doesn't necessarily lend itself to much of a through-line.  Instead, I wrote a play about children rehearsing for a musical featuring the songs they had learned in VBS.

See what I did there?

You cannot imagine my relief when virtually all of the kids came up to tell me how great the script was.  Not only do they love it, but they each like their parts.  (Admittedly, there are a lot of one-line roles for the younger kids, but they're pretty much there to sing the songs, be cute, and eat sugary snacks every night)  The one girl who begged me to stray from unnecessary cheese even told me that it was perfect and gave me a high-five.  Whew!

Here's the bestest part: as we were "blocking" each of the scenes, I watched the kids saying the lines on the page actually is funny.  Parts of it are really funny.  I mean, it's a bit hokey and over-the-top, because hey, it's kids' music camp at a church using VBS songs.  You can't have camp without camp.  But for what it is, I think it actually turned out pretty decent.  What I like most about it, I think, is that you can see traces of the kids in the group within the story.  Most of the characters I wrote with specific kids in mind, and I must have done pretty well because the music director cast pretty much all of them in the roles they inspired.  There are also several moments that are distinctly "Me," I think a little moreso than my more professional pieces.  Finally, I worked in some inside jokes between me and a few of the kids.  For example, one girl has been bugging me since winter to write a play for her in which she gets to be a unicorn princess.  Believe it or not, I managed to work it in here.  Sort of.  And she loved it.  In short: my favorite aspect of this script is that it is in every way a play for us.  And while it won't ever be one of my greatest works, I think that's pretty cool. 

I may post the script on here after the show Friday night.  We'll see how it goes over with the grown-ups first ;-)

Monday, August 8, 2011

v2, d392: Betrayal

No, I'm not talking about the Pinter play.

I'm talking about words.  For some reason, words and I are at odds right now.  Any time I sit down to write, the words I can grasp are not the ones I want to use.  I know the ideas I mean to communicate aren't that complicated, but I'll be darned if I can find a syntax adequate to present those ideas to others.  That's a big part of why you're getting such sporadic blogging on here.  It's just not working for me right now.  It's not quite the same thing as Writer's Block, because I've got a ton of stuff  I could be writing, both on this blog and in other places, and I'm even pretty sure how to go about it, but for some reason the actual Doing undoes itself. 

I'd say it's more bewildering than frustrating, honestly. Just know that I am trying.  My beloved vocabulary is just in the midst of a prolonged betrayal of sorts. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

v2, d391:Dad gum it

It's nearly football season. Everyone is reacting as though football's been gone forever, and at LAST it's finally here.  But in reality, we didn't actually miss any football with the lockout.  We just missed a month of free agent signings. Training camp started pretty close to on time.  And teams scrambled like mad to get two months' of personnel work taken care of in two weeks. It was kind of fun to try to keep up with it all.  In fact, maybe they ought to make the off-season two weeks long every year!

And, in spite of myself...I'm excited for football season.  Again. Even after the crapfest that was last year.  And it was, folks. It was terrible. When we were 4-0 last season and I said, "Yeah, but we're lucky we're winning.  If we don't make some major improvements, we'll be a 6-10 team," a lot of folks said I was just being negative. 

A few months later, we were a 6-10 team.  And the losses were so outrageously idiotic that it became almost a joke.  As a fan, I couldn't even enjoy those thrilling rally-from-twenty-points-down-in-the-fourth-quarter games (and yeah, there were more than one) because I already knew we were going to lose.  And not just lose, but lose on a bone-headed, SportsCenter blooper type of play.  Every time. 

Then the owner would come out and say, "Look at all these losses, they sure are close!  I think we ought to stay the course."  Despite the fact that we've been losing bone-headed fourth-quarter losses for the past three seasons.  Despite the fact that we have practically invented ways to lose games we  ought to have won for the past three years.  We're probably headed in the right direction.  We should just stay the course. 

By the end of the year, I just couldn't even care any more.  I know a lot of legitimate die-hard Texans fans felt the same way.  We were tired of the promises, tired of the potential, tired of the lost-it-on-the-last-possession games that kept showing up in the L column.  We were tired of teams losing just because they didn't "show up" on a regular basis. 

We were tired of the Texans.

And like a guy getting out of a bad relationship, I was pretty convinced I wasn't going to let myself get excited again. Not until some major changes happened.  I'd heard all the lingo before, read all the promises and the optimism from players and coaches for the past couple of years about how we were finally turning the corner, and I knew I wasn't going to set myself up for another major disappointment like last season. 

Then training camp started.  And dang me, I can't help but be excited. First Texans preseason game is a week from Monday, and I'm excited to see it.  I want to see the rookies.  I want to see how the defense responds to the new system.  I want to see the guys we're going to cut.  I just want the guys with the cow on the side of their heads to get out there and play football again.  And yeah, we'll probably be mediocre again.  I look at our schedule and I see maybe 8 wins from a team that's talented enough to win 10-12 games.  We're probably the same inconsistent Texans that we've been the last four seasons of Coach K's reign.  Maybe we'll be better.  But history says we probably won't.  But blast it all, I'm willing to give 'em another chance. 

I need help. 

(Incidentally, for the third year in a row I've said that this is the year I'm finally going to get really into college football.  We'll see how that goes)

Friday, August 5, 2011

v2, d390: Camp

See, I should have titled the last blog "Red, and Back."  That pic, by the way, was from the day I got to be my team's flag bearer for no other reason than I was on the red team and happened to be sitting on the aisle when the Rec Director was looking for a flag bearer that day.  Hey, I'll take it. 

I think I actually held up pretty well at camp.  I made it to every 7:00 a.m. sponsors' meeting, spent each day walking everywhere and Star Trekkin' when necessary, and managed to fall asleep by midnight every night.  I tried to set an example for my kids, getting them to dive in and do crazy things or try new things, which means I did venture into the mud pit for tug of war, and I engaged whole-heartedly in the silly dances, and I made sure I was actually doing a quiet time during "cabin quiet time" (as opposed to, say, catching a quick nap or going over the schedule).  It was a long and full five days/four nights, but I really enjoyed myself. 

The worship music was really good.  However, they always projected the words on the screen with animated screensavers behind them.  You all remember that 3-D brick maze screensaver that you couldn't take your eyes off of no matter  where in the room you were and what else was happening?  This was a lot like that.  Also, because this was preteen camp, the camp director's M.O. from the get go was to get the kids really psyched up.  Like, the entire first day was pretty much geared to get the kids screaming for everything.  Good morning.  RAAAAAAAAAAAR!!!!  How are you guys doing today? RAAAAAAAAAAR!!!!!  Are you ready to have a good day AT CAMP?  RAAAAAAAAAAARRR!!!!  How many of you ate BREAKFAST THIS MORNING?  RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!  WHO LOVES JESUS???  RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!  I'M HOLDING A TOILET BRUSH!  WHO WANTS A RUBBER DUCKY?  RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

Et cetera.

And I get that.  Believe me, I do.  You want to get the kids invested early, and sheer enthusiasm for enthusiasm's sake is a good way to do that.  However, if you get to the end of the week and the kids won't pipe down long enough for you to finish your important announcement, well, don't stand on the stage and look down disapprovingly at them.  'Cause you brought that on yourself. 

Also also also, if you're a magician, and you use a magic trick that you can't solve as your visual aide, explaining that it's simply impossible, much like it's not possible for us to justify ourselves to God outside of the blood of Christ, that's actually pretty cool.  If, however, at the very end of your message, you snap your fingers and then complete the impossible trick, you've pretty much ruined your object lesson. 

All in all, though, it was a good camp.  Not great, but good.  I liked everyone on the staff, I enjoyed the speaker and the worship band, and the guy with the monkey puppets was phenomenal.  (Years from now, all that the kids will remember about this trip was the guy with the monkey puppets and 'Nana puddin')  It was also a great learning week for me, too.  The camp staff hosted workshops for the sponsors during some of the activities, and I was able to slip away and catch a couple.  Not only did I come back with some ideas for things I'd like to try at our church, but I've also developed a better understanding for what children's ministry is/can be.  I see a lot of areas where I (and/or our church) is lacking, and I see areas I want to continue to grow in.  (For the record, Star Trekkin' is not one of these areas, as I'm apparently already awesome at that) 

Oh yeah, and two of our kids got saved.  I had the privilege of praying with one of our boys to receive Christ.  Both of the kids who were saved (all eight kids we brought, for that matter) were born and raised in the church.  I can't wait to see the reactions of all the folks back home who have loved, taught, and prayed for these kids their whole lives.  Now, I pray that I'll learn how to better equip our kids to take the next step in their faith. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

v2, d389: Back

If you give a man a flag, that flag's gonna wave.
Sadly, I couldn't get anyone to build a barricade with me to fight off the pawns of the aristocracy.  They were all more interested in going down that sweet water slide in the background. 

Revolutions die so easily these days.  Ah well.

Let others rise to take our place until the earth is FREE!!!


Anyway, camp was good. 

More later.