A Musical Theatre Unschooler’s Ode to Last Harry Potter Premiere

14 07 2011

I woke up this morning to discover — posted as a new note on his FaceBook page — what Young Son had been up to all night. Talk about flow! 🙂

As far as his mother knows, this is the first song parody he’s even tried to write, so it just astounds me.

He’s still asleep so for now I can only speculate how it came about. (When I checked just now, one of his Jim Dale-performed Harry Potter audiobooks was playing, as it has all night every night since he started putting together a premiere character costume and pre-purchased his ticket for tomorrow.)

He’s studying French with a private tutor, yet I wonder whether he noticed his parody particularly fits today as Bastille Day, set as it is to music from a French musical, his all-time favorite, Les Miserables.

For my part, I never imagined much less planned for Bastille Day to figure into our unschooling musically or any other way, even though it already has done, for both of them.

Young Son and Les Miserables power of story

Harry Potter power of story

You’ll appreciate this much more if you have the soaring Les Mis lyrics and rhythms in your head, which doubtless aren’t QUITE as deeply bred into everyone as in my house:

Okay? Did you play the video? Do you have a goose-bump or two? Then here we go, exactly as he wrote and posted it! [hush falls over the audience]

“Ode to the Harry Potter premiere”
by Young Son Ross on Thursday, July 14, 2011

(To the tune of “1 day more” from Les Miserables)

‎FAN #1: One day more, another day another costume piece, in this never ending wait to the release. The fans all seem to know it’s time, to buy tickets is not a crime, one day more.

FAN #2: I will not live until that day, the day when it all ends forever

Read the rest of this entry »

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Celebrating Power of Story in Books & Movies

25 10 2010

I was just poking around the PBS site because of the new Sherlock Holmes series that started airing last night.

Young Son is a huge fan of everything Holmesian and he’s put together a Sherlock Holmes costume for this Halloween (last year he was Inspector Javert from Les Miserables but that was more about the singing than the detecting, I think) — point being, they are both book characters. As I always say, our unschooling is mostly “power of story” and seeing the same characters and story in different interpretations is an important part of the learning and fun.

The website has a short video of the new young Holmes, who said it was on record that Holmes is the single most often re-interpreted literary character.

The exhibition items have not changed since they were first installed, and are now complemented by an interesting and nostalgic collection of television and film stills, featuring the famous actors who have played the Great Detective and his trusty sidekick, Watson, down the years.

I can’t vouch for Holmes holding the record, but it was interesting and while I was waiting for Young Son to wake up so I could show him, I was thinking we sort of have our own book club mentality around here, not formalized of course, but that’s what we talk about and how we have fun.

Anyway, all that led me to this and I thought I’d share — Read the rest of this entry »





Young Son’s Unschooling This Week: Dracula Offspring

22 10 2010

Young Son got so absorbed reading Les Miserables, then Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes, that he teed up Bram Stoker’s Dracula next. He’s nearly finished the book but because it’s October and Halloween is nigh (one supposes) some cable movie channels are showing different versions of the story and Young Son is recording them at all hours and then watching them critically, comparing and contrasting them.

The other day it was a science fiction spoof:

We got a bite to eat at Chili’s yesterday before show rehearsal, just the two of us. He regaled me with all sorts of Dracula story aspects I had never considered. It was like listening to him talk about real history of, say, the Red Baron or Napoleon — power of story! (Which reminds me, let’s talk about Virginia’s fourth grade history textbooks later, huh?)

Then this morning I awoke to see he had updated his Facebook status in the wee hours:

. . . just finished, in addition to the Keanu Reeves Dracula, Van Helsing, which somehow manages to take characters from Stoker’s novel, completely change the backstory of one to the point where he can no longer be used in the novel and kill the other one, all of this 10 years before the novel takes place.

Also, Dracula offspring is not a concept that ever needed to be explored…

I can’t wait for him to wake up so I can get him going on that last point! 😉





Young Son’s Epic Status This Morning

29 05 2010

My guys were out early to a fencing tournament so I was noodling around and noticed the Facebook status Young Son posted before he left the house (you’ll recall he’s been reading the unabridged 1450-page Les Miserables, in the wee hours instead of sleeping.)

And so the 6 month expedition ends. Javert lies in the seine, valjean in the ground, thenardier is in new York selling slaves, the revolutionaries are dead, Marius and cossette are married, fantine and the bishop died a long while ago. Gavroche is also dead.
VIVE LA REPUBLIQUE!





Why Fencing Knickers Make Me Feel at Home

4 03 2010

Getting one’s first pair of fencing knickers is not something that most families celebrate. 😉

But COD and his seasoned 16-year-old Dark Horse fencer will appreciate it, if no one else can. And this week I’m in the hunt for any family-and-friends moment that can draw the cozy circle of “home” closer.

My life seems a little surreal because we’ve moved into a local hotel, pending new traditional wood floors being sanded, sealed and finished throughout our home of ten years. You don’t want to know how dusty places I haven’t seen since 2002 had gotten — we’ve all been sneezing our heads off — or how many boxes of books we packed before we could notice any difference (over 100.) Everything we own from electronics and delicates to the refrigerator and washer-dryer is now stuffed into our garage like a Jenga puzzle, front to back, floor to ceiling, and I mean everything — including, unexpectedly and rather unfortunately from my POV at least, the shirts and suits DH needs for work and all of Young Son’s personal hygiene products.

But by golly, we got out with Young Son’s fencing bag, chanter and bagpipes, Irish stepdance hard shoes, the library’s Les Miserables still in progress, his iTouch AND one of the chess boards. . . oh, and more than a dozen geek t-shirts.

And this laptop, upon which I now muse.

So anyway. Our regularly scheduled daily activities proceed unabated here “at home” except we’re not. At home, I mean. Instead of taking a vacation from our home, it’s more like our home is taking a vacation from us! Who are we, really — just where we are now or also where we were, where we hope to be? What we have with us at the moment and can show, or also what we’ve collected over time, even if we can’t get at it or forgot where we put it?

Wednesday afternoon we went to the fencing salle as we always do, but from the opposite side of town so it was the same but different. The knickers in his suddenly adult size had come in, hurray, so that when he’s ready for his first tournament, Read the rest of this entry »





Children Teaching Themselves to Read: Psychology Today Post Goes Up

26 02 2010

Remember the Psychology Today “Freedom to Learn” call for unschooling stories? Peter Gray’s first post reporting some of what was sent in about the first question he posed — “learning to read” — showed up this week, good stuff getting a lot of eyeballs around the ‘Net.

I just added a story under it:

*************
Learning to read, then learning from reading

Submitted by JJ Ross on February 26, 2010 – 6:36am.

Learning to read isn’t necessarily a mechanical or academic process, any more than learning to sing, dance and play.

Our now 14-year-old was completely unschooled from birth. He loved stories and books and took his first reading steps very early and seamlessly along with his first actual steps, toddling into both with joy in his own idiosyncratic style. He became a computer kid and read all the colorful PC game manuals (Spiderman, the Incredibles, Lego Star Wars) taking them to bed at night to read ahead but after he knew them by heart, still wanting them open in his lap as he played the game. They got dog-eared, then raggedy and pages start falling out but he still loves and keeps these books as part of the play.

Over the years he found some boys’ series in paperback that he enjoyed but thinking all the way back to Thomas the Tank Engine, his favorites had playful color graphics, either illustrations or right in the text like Chet Gekko, and real-life tie-ins rounding them out, like action figures, cartoons, movies, fan sites online. He’s always preferred audio books to reading text and grew up listening to his favorites over and over, falling asleep to them in bed (Jim Dale’s Grammy-winning performance of the Harry Potter books e.g. and unabridged Tolkien.)

Then last summer, he performed the title role in a Shakespeare camp reading/acting Richard the Third. His interest in reading ambitious (particularly anglophile) texts with sound and action (from the video game conditioning?) just exploded. He read several Shakespeare plays and read about the history behind the plays, and then he discovered the 10th anniversary music video of Les Miserables. Great period costumes and war action, strong male characters plus it’s a “sung-through” show which means few spoken lines; the whole story is in the singing. Out of the blue he decided he wanted to read the original Victor Hugo novel, to compare it to the musical. Off to the library we went. He took it to his room and reads it late at night or sometimes on a quiet afternoon. (We’ve renewed it several times.) He gives me occasional offhand commentary about how he’s experiencing this tome I’ve never attempted. It’s 1400 pages and he is now on about page 950.

Yesterday afternoon as I was driving him somewhere, he mentioned that the reading was slow at this point because the author incorporated a 70-page narrative within the story where he’s talking directly to the reader in defense of “argot.” Argot, I wondered — never heard of it. Maybe he misunderstood something and the text is just too difficult?

Nope. He proceeded to give me quite a lively education and when I got home, I found this. Apparently learning to read (and learning through reading) is a lifelong process and this student has become my master! 😀





Young Son the Political and Cultural Cynic

28 10 2009

So you know he’s been reading Les Miserables, all 1,400 pages.

I guess it makes sense he would relate the author’s social themes to his own present reality as synched up with his own favorite social commentary artists by night, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and as opposed to the years of rantings and vitriol he’s heard by day from Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity on the car radio.

He chortled over a narrative passage (I think describing the Thenardier family) last night, reading it aloud to the whole family and marveling that Hugo had somehow anticipated the third-millennium GOP! 😉

I probably wouldn’t have blogged it except then this morning, I saw he had posted it to FaceBook:

“There are souls which, crablike, crawl continually toward darkness, going back in life, rather than advancing in it;
using what experience they have to increase their deformity; growing worse without ceasing, and becoming steeped more and more thoroughly in an intensifying wickedness.”

— Victor Hugo, sound like anybody you know of?





Where is Young Son?

13 10 2009

We’d been to the branch library and then out to scout up a vest for his scenes as a Village Boy in the upcoming Irish dance version of The Snow Queen. I looked up and he wasn’t around. Guess where I found him?

He’s out in the far back yard under the big pear tree. In his kilt. Reading the 1,400-page unabridged Les Miserables newly procured from said library. With his iPod earphone playing the cast recording of the musical to set the mood . . . remember his costume this year is Javert from Les Mis.

Oh, just recalled that he also has the 1937 Smithsonian-archived dramatization from Orson Welles on his iPod so maybe he’s listening to that instead, can’t be sure since I have nothing to do with it!

He loves it when a plan comes together. This is why latching onto power of story and riding it for all it’s worth, works to learn anything and everything — at least for him. And really, what else matters? 🙂

les mis orson welles mercury theatre cd box

p.s. early Wednesday — when he wakes up this morning (or afternoon?) I’ll show Young Son this very un-classic, unhistorical Les Mis tie-in I just found poking around:
“Purists of a nervous disposition may wish to stop reading now.”

It may delight him or it may appall him but either way we’ll have fun, can’t wait to see which! 🙂