What Should We Call Christ as a Kick in the Head?

8 12 2008

Just drove Young Son to Irish dance and musical theatre. Their performing arts studio is in a neighborhood shopping center with a sandwich shop and pizza place, a chinese food restaurant, a small computer shop — and a huge, very busy martial arts place with big glass walls across the front so you can watch from the sidewalk or your car, called Karate for Christ Ministries.

I’ve waited for the kids and wondered about this incongruous pairing of east and west before. School football players in the South seem very well-educated if Christianity is the standard and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is the measure. My favorite quarterback Gator Tim Tebow is always blessing the tv announcers and thanking his lord Jesus Christ for his touchdowns. His whole family goes on mission trips and he even convinced his coach to join him on one last summer. But school football and school religion are compatibly American — at least so I was taught — especially in the Bible Belt.

Karate though? For Christ?

So today as Spunky started a new conversation about what it means for a child to be “well-educated” I noticed it afresh and thought I’d mention some of what it makes me wonder, about what’s being taught and learned and why to our kids out of school, not in.

The phone number is painted on the glass, too: want your child well-educated in mind, body and spirit all at the same time? Who needs School OR Church? Just call 8-WE-KICK.

I called up wikipedia instead: Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Daughter Writes Again

1 10 2008

“Nothing is Sexier Than a Baritone”

I’d forgotten that voice…It’s like a hot bubble bath and a velvet pillow and being kissed on the ear, all at once.

. . .It was really a stupid movie, on many levels, not least because of the rampant and pervasive sexism. I remember my mom begging me to change the channel when she heard the opening notes of “Bless Your Beautiful Hide.”

Her argument was:
It was heinous that
a) Howard Keel was roaming the streets looking for a wife simply because she would be a useful farming asset, and
b) He had reduced the act to such a transactional level that he was equating this theoretical woman with livestock.

My argument was as follows:
Shut up, Howard Keel is singing.

As the party of the second part, I can attest to this as 100% true. No hyperbole for dramatic bloggy effect.

They wouldn’t have had a clue what to do with this child in school! 😉

Let’s bring back the days when baritones were the touchstones of musicals. Let’s write new music for them so we don’t have to keep revisiting Rodgers and Hammerstein clunkers to get our sexy baritone fix. Rodgers and Hammerstein are not the apex of musical theatre, their shows were depressing and predictable, and, as near as I can tell, a sort of “gateway” musical theatre that sucks in people who don’t know how cool Sondheim is yet.

What We’ve Been Up To UnSchooling

12 05 2008

Last week was dance show week, with lost jazz shoes that needed to be replaced at the last minute and dress rehearsals for hours and hours and HOURS every day and night, then the Big Annual Show with family and friends and photographs Saturday.

“Journey On” was the theme and Favorite Daughter again was hired to write the script tying the pieces together into an artistic whole. Power of Story! And she and Young Son both then were cast as voices, professionally recorded acting out the show’s soundtrack. So now we’re all happy but more than ready for some idle amusements and unstructured downtime.

It was notable as our last show after ten years at this studio — Favorite Daughter is all grown up and immersed in collegiate challenges, and Young Son is increasingly drawn to other styles of performance, especially those bagpipes arriving day after tomorrow!

The next show our family is focused on will be in two weeks, a formal senior voice recital for our beautiful soprano at Florida State University College of Music, all light opera and musical theatre. She’s preparing Yum Yum’s solo and two trios — including Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Die Fledermaus — and also will join into a couple of big ensemble pieces.

Choose Nine Books for Your Gift Box

3 11 2007

Books to give, that is, not books you want to get and read. Red Molly explains it here, and I’m taking up her challenge, rare for me but how can an old librarian resist a BOOK meme??

(If you take on the challenge too, please leave a link here so we can come see.)

The president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, is trying to encourage more of her citizenry to read books by giving boxes of as many as nine books to 400,000 poor families, according to The Economist. The big question, of course, is which nine books, exactly? The London-based weekly newsmagazine said Chile’s selected titles, like “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger and “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, were “unexceptionable fare.”

How about you? If you had to fill a box with nine books that everyone ought to have, what would they be? What if you had to pick just one work of literature? Wow. Nine and only nine. What a concept! Should one go for the lofty and cerebral? The literary and timeless? The uproariously funny?

. . . I’m so tempted to tag here, despite my fear of calling anyone out by name, but rest assured that this is one in upon which I most heartily encourage y’all to weigh.Here’s my stab at a list, which I’m sure I’ll revise mentally many many times, especially immediately after posting it:

Okay, it’s JJ again. The challenging part for me would be putting even nine books in a box to throw away — why my house is nothing but stacks — not choosing nine or nine hundred wonderful books to share with new readers! So I easily came up with a box of nine books to share, no overlap to RedMolly’s list although I’d be proud to send it too.

Leaving aside the obvious — the complete Harry Potter set of seven books plus two players to be named later — my nine books-in-a-box in no particular order are:


Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Daughter, Santa Claus and a College Newspaper’s Catfight

1 10 2007

From FavD’s college campus, a blogpost written on the laptop she just bought with money she earned, and carries around in a black Abbey Road Beatles book bag, snugged in a neoprene sleeve:


I have a theory that exposed to the world’s religions, both ancient and modern, your standard eight-year-old would call bullshit in about an hour, if that. Hell, the various creation myths are so clearly derived from one another, I don’t know how adults fail to notice. Kids are really more logical than you’d think — they may believe in magic, but their magic plays by clearly defined, sensible rules. Prime example, my younger brother, who we are trying to wean off Santa Claus this year. . .

Btw, this weekend FavD auditioned for, and was cast in, the singing, dancing ensemble for the January production of a gritty journalism musical called “Sweet Smell of Success” — nicknamed Smell around here — set in the edgy jazz, corrupt film-noir culture of the 1950s. She’s also been named Dance Captain. Rehearsals start tomorrow night.

John Lithgow won the Tony award for his starring role in Smell as all-powerful celebrity gossip columnist “JJ” (good name, right?) and there are a couple of strong female leads. The newspaper ink gets smeared on everyone by the end. The storyline of this story imo, is the power of newspapers right or wrong, to define the power of every story — which as it turns out in this story, isn’t just about money but literally life and death.

Probably due to my own shady past in journalism and “public information” work, the song from this show I learned first and easiest, is “Dirt:”

Dirt — it’s an animal need.
I don’t pick up the paper for the sports or the news,
Those ain’t the “sports” that I choose!

The real world of journalism can be SO educational, not to mention musical theatre. . . oh, and college too.


Doc’s Getting to Know You Meme

30 07 2007

Doc found a blog meme where the questions (not just answers) differ for each person.

So as Doc said, don’t be shy!

The Rules of the Meme:
1. Leave me a comment saying anything random, like [the food you hate most in all the world]. Something random. Whatever you like.
2. I respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better.
3. You will update your [blog] with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and offer to ask someone else in the post.
5. When others comment asking to be asked, you will ask them five questions.

Here are Doc’s questions to me and my answers:

Read the rest of this entry »

Doctor Seuss, Doctor JJ and Power of Story for Life At the Highest Levels of Government

20 04 2007

I have a homeschool mom friend and activist in Tennessee, a conservative Republican and Christian.

She served in uniform herself. She served NHEN as a fair and careful moderator who, imo, was tougher on herself than anyone else.

She even served on her local school board recently, and of course took undue lumps for being a homeschooling mom who according to the rhetorical excess of the times should therefore stay out of all public education business (as if it didn’t affect her family and community interests as full-fledged citizens just as much as anyone else??)

The short power of story is: I trust her heart , and though I’ve never met her in person, feel that I know her to be a Thinking Parent.

But like all of us who ARE thinking, she is always learning more. And she seems honestly open to that prospect, which is why I have admired her these many years despite the fact that our politics are not the same. She does her homework without foregone conclusions in mind.

So — all that is preamble to this. She has a Tennessee education blog, and after the SCOTUS decision the other day, she posted something that made me (the musical theatre mom whose daughter was assistant stage manager for “Seussical: the Musical” in community theatre last summer) smile, even though I hated that decision and disliked the way my homeschooling mom friend saw it.
She quoted a Dr. Seuss book, that “a person’s a person no matter how small” (Horton the elephant, remember?) as a way to affirm the rightness of the partial birth abortion ban.

I started to engage her in a debate on her own blog, but thought better of it. You know that role-conflict mode at a family reunion or maybe a big holiday, where you are thrown into impossible conflicting demands between being mother, wife, daughter and hostess or guest, say, all at the same time? I didn’t want to do that to her. Read the rest of this entry »

Nudes and Prudes

22 01 2007

Written today in response to an eponymous post at K-Dad:

To connect your meditations on husband-wife relations to dad relationships for teaching children, I’d like to add a parent’s perspective on nude-prude, and what children learn about it from us. I came back last night from a long weekend of media-heavy dance performance classes and competition. We took a chartered busload (of kids, chaperones and adult dancers who all treat each other as extended family) three hours to an urban hotel with all the costumes, props and gear to perform more than a dozen big musical theatre production numbers for world-class entertainment industry master teachers. (All male in this case.) Several studios and performing arts schools did the same, almost exclusively girls.

My extremely innocent, unselfconscious, always unschooled young son is the only male dancer in our company this year. He actually had two stuffed animals in his dance bag, to sit with quietly during the longer waits. But a VERY nasty scene over his “sex” ensued in the ballroom designated as the common dressing room for all the studios, during Saturday evening’s adjudicated performance, when a mom spitting venom from across the ballroom shrieks at our group, “will someone GET that boy OUT of here! My daughter’s in puberty, and he can’t see her business!”

Her own daughter began to cry in humiliation. Indeed her “business” was visible if you’d been looking, because those dancers apparently hadn’t been taught about a nude-colored leotard-like garment called a camisole, that female dancers wear under all their costumes so that no one CAN see their “business” during changes. Our dancers have changed quickly and unselfconsciously in hallways when no dressing room was available, their only concern being to keep themselves unseen by the AUDIENCE until their next performance, but not unseen backstage by other players male or female — an appropriate detachment from backstage theatrical nudity as sexual is something young performers need to learn.

Apart from that, this prudish mom might have had a legitimate concern if some male did gain access to the dressing room and begin leering or perhaps flashing his OWN business at the girls. The facts were though, that my son isn’t in puberty, doesn’t know or care about sex differences yet, and didn’t even know she was yelling about him. He was obediently running through a bit for the next big number with several of our adult female dancers, one of whom is a high-ranking law enforcement official IRL. He certainly was not checking out anybody’s “business!” And he wore the nude-colored male equivalent of a camisole, called a “dance belt” so no little girls would see any of his business. . .and then changed in the men’s bathroom anyway.

I don’t comment to elicit practical suggestions about separate male dressing rooms or whatever — that’s the policy level of the issue, and there are various solutions already under discussion. My point here is what’s in people’s heads, harmful ideas and beliefs that policy cannot fix. Stuff that hurts children when parents and teachers and role models get it all twisted. You have to THINK, not just take the written rules and beat each other over the heads with them until the stronger, louder, ruder, more heavily armored warriors are left standing.

I can’t give you a full power of story interpretation yet, but I just had to comment for K-Dad while it’s fresh — to me the obscenity was hers and it was spiritual, not really flesh-based at all. Her prudish and self-righteous hysteria, about skin and eyeballs and biological differences, completely missed the deeper magic (like Aslan versus the White Witch) — modesty, self-control, courage, family, compassion, civility, conflict resolution.

Humanity, not nudity. We could have been flagged by the event’s authority for a technical violation, sure, but she violated the IMPORTANT rules as parent, teacher and adult role model.


Quiet This Week Is Just Here

17 01 2007

Find plenty of vigorous political debate for Thinking Parents this week here and also here. One great line that came out of that discussion (not mine) was “culture trumps political party!”

Favorite Daughter’s present performance schedule makes it easier for me to comment in snatches rather than putting together whole blog essays, but there’s good raw material if I could just get time at home to do much with it for Snook. She got into the secret honors lounge on campus yesterday for the first time, and she’s getting ready for her first college musical theatre audition even as I type (Chorus Line).

I have some new unbelievable –but completely true!– “car from hell” stories to work with too . . .miss you all!

“EVERYBODY Has an Interesting Education”

8 01 2007

“All kids have tremendous talents and we squander them, pretty ruthlessly. . .Creativity is as important in education these days as literacy and we should treat it with the same status . . .Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go! If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original . . .children are born artists (but) we’re educating people OUT of their creative capacities.”

Sir Ken Robinson speaks with a charming accent and some very funny lines — pictures of God, Shakespeare as a child, university professors, musical theatre choreographers as learning-disabled (Gillian isn’t sick, she’s a dancer!”) — adding up to a serious message about how School stigmatizes creative thought and academically standardizes it, and thereby screws up the whole world.
This video seems a better lesson in real creativity than whatever School is teaching and testing as “arts education.” Quiz me if you want, nobody made me but I watched it three times. . . 🙂

(Hat tip to Sandra Dodd)

Learning the Hard Way – Wrap

7 01 2007

We all just got home from the celebration in honor of our dance teacher’s life and work. I updated the original post with a brief report, for all those in his extended family who couldn’t come in person (although one of his old musical theatre friends flew in from Washington State!) but have been faithfully checking in here.

Bah, Humbug!

1 12 2010

Here’s what Young Son and I have been busy with, for him too busy to finish Dracula so he can start on Julius Caesar and for me, too busy to blog much lately.

(At least it’s Christmasy!)

Scrooge: the Musical at Quincy Music Theatre