Monday, May 28, 2012

Gaggle of Chicks, a Plop of an Apple -- A New York City Tale

This is a repost from my Piccadilly Arts blog originally posted on May 17.  I've added a few more pictures.

Last week my son and packed our duds and made for the Big Apple.  A mommy and son adventure complete with trains, performances, playground time, ice cream treats and more. The reason for our jaunt up NJ Transit's Northeast Regional line was to see both Treehouse Shakers' Hatched and Windmill Theatre's Plop.  Treehouse Shakers performed their new piece for the littlest of audience members at Ailey Studios and Windmill Theatre performed at The New Victory Theater.  But why stop with theatre?  We are in NYC!  So I scored us a sweet deal on boutique hotel (thanks, BookIt) in Midtown East and made sure we had down time for cartoons and playing at Madison Square Park.

Mitch colors before the performance at The New Victory 

I admit, one of my favorite parts about my job is that at least for a few more years at least, I can share my TYA knowledge and connections with my almost four year old.  As my mom likes to say, he's a really cultured kid.  He was a cultured baby too.  He's been to IPAY and a few conferences and retreats and mingled with artists since he was 3 months old.  He's seen several theater pieces at the New Vic studios, seen Zany Umbrella Circus and Treehouse Shakers twice now.  We see what we can, what's most appropriate for him, and we schlep far and wide.  It's especially great now that he's SO verbal to hear his recounting of the experiences.

 "I saw a farm show, Mommy!  And the chick went 'cheep cheep, cheep, cheep.' And I saw a bird, a cow and a lambie!"

The above photos I took after the performance.  Kids and their families sit front and center and have an opportunity to truly experience life on an American farm.  It's told through the eyes of a baby chick that has just hatched and we watch her learn to walk, take in her surroundings from roosters, cows, lambs, and birds.  Sprinkled throughout the narrative area chances for the children to pet, feed, and hold baby animals.  The puppetry and scenery are just exquisite.  Perhaps one of my favorite elements of the performance is the live music.  I never would have visualized this piece with live music and yet it gave it a whole other layer of stimulation and authenticity. I was truly touched at how beautiful this show was and how utterly American it felt to me.  I see loads of international performances for this audience that are phenomenal as well but Treehouse Shakers captured what it means to be an American in this piece via something as authentic as a farm, and more importantly, a child's first visit to a farm.

These pictures were taken after Plop.  Plop is based on the picture book The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky and the Australian Windmill Theatre produced and performed this adorable piece for preschoolers.  The "plop" is the sound of apples falling from the sky (a fabulous contraption) into a bucket of water and making a rather loud plopping sound, scaring away two little rabbits.  Filled with terrific audio and engaging visuals, this blends fairy tale with fun. My son spent about ten minutes after the show playing with all the musical instruments.

A few video snippets to follow of each show but for now suffice it to say, both were audience favorites and make anyone working in our Theater for Young Audiences field proud -- this is exactly the sort of work that should be noticed, curated, funded, and supported.  It's thoughtful, meaningful, interactive and fun.  Kudos to both companies.

Here are a few more from the trip.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tearing through Target

On a quest today to buy a friend of M's a birthday gift, we found ourselves distracted - as always - in Target.  We went in for a $15 gift and walked out 90 minutes later with $160 worth of groceries, accessories, birthday gifts (for him and the friend), toiletries, and more.  Despite a few meltdowns, we did have fun trying on shades and glasses.

Lillies in the Garden

These will forever be Mitchell's flowers.  When we move, I'll dig these babies up and take them with us.  I planted them in the spring of 2008 and they bloomed the day he was born.  I cannot believe the little guy will be four in just five days. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My adoration of #51: Carlos Ruiz

Many moons ago when I first started to get into the Phillies, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the active roster.  I thought Shane Victorino was adorable and great speed racer.  But while the local community gushed of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, I hung back and surveyed the scene.  Not really a band wagon jumper, I got into the game, the team, and players very gradually.  Baseball had always been a very boring sport to me and moreover the silliness of bandwagon fans when things would go well made me want to smack people.  So gradually over 2-3 years I started to understand the game, the calls, the pitches, the players and the competition.  There is a lot to comprehend.

I also noticed this adorable catcher, Carlos Ruiz, in 2008 and 2009 who seemed to fly under the radar all the time.  He quietly called the pitches and at certain times in the season could really be a clutch player.  I started to follow his moves back then and on any given day the Phils played, I'd be over my laptop typing (errr, screaming) "CHOOOCH!" into my FB status whenever he'd make a killer play or hit.  Doc's no hit game he credited to Ruiz...and many other well played games.  Who doesn't remember the commercial with Doc and the blow up Chooch doll promoting the start of last season?  The two were a force last year and I really credit both of them for being such class acts but Doc especially for elevating Ruiz to a new place of respect. 

Here we are in 2012 and I broke down this April and got myself a Chooch jersey.  I'd had a tee shirt and his bobble head but not a Jersey.  It was a long time coming.  Like I said, I was never a fan of the sport...or any commercial sport for that matter.  And frankly, I don't do jerseys.  It's a look I never liked nor identified with.  I still don't.  It conjures up images of starter jackets, hot shorts, Lee Press On Nails, hair with bad roots and bo-bos.  But I wanted something more official than the Chooch tee.  I wrestled with this decision for years.  SO conflicted.  It's not my style at all.  When I finally made the decision and sprung for it, I vowed to keep it indie in spirit and style and took a pic with Instagram and said, "Made him wait 3 years.  Had to know my feelings were real, ya know?"  Word.

And here we are this season with a pathetic offense and some of our ace pitchers looking like they are losing their focus and who is playing like an ace?  My man.  Ruiz is killing it every night he's out there.  He's had more homers this spring than all of last season and more RBIs.  For the first time in his career, he hit 4th in the line up last night.  Now, he's been playing well and totally deserves all this attention and reward if you will.  But if our offense were actually bringing their A game, he'd be further down on the line up, but no doubt still playing great.

Here are some of my favorite Chooch pics I've found over the years.  My little curated Chooch gallery if you will. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

2012 Summer Olympics: Eye on Gymnastics and Nastia Liukin

How excited am I for the Olympics?  I love my Phillie Carlos Ruiz but nothing quite compares to the rawness that is an amateur (if you can really call an Olympian that?) vying for gold.  For as long as I can remember, I've watched both summer and winter Olympics with summer being my favorite - the gymnasts, the runners, the swimmers and divers.  I never considered myself overly patriotic either.  That is until I'd find myself standing and screaming at the TV, biting my nails in anticipation, scared some athlete who has given up her life for this sport might slip on the beam at any given moment, hollering, "Come ON!" for Team USA.  Four years ago  I watched with an infant son and I am excited to introduce him to this 8 week long TV ritual.

I am routing for this amazing gal - who I loved watching in 2008 - and I am hoping makes it to London this summer.  A gorgeous young woman who is strong and athletic.  I'm just a tad obsessed with how can do these amazing things with her body.  Go Nastia Liukin.


Monday, May 07, 2012

The Live Unicorn

Last week I schlepped to NYC for one of my roster artists' events.  As I was leaving Penn Station I chose to go up a different set of escalators and found myself standing in the lobby of Madison Square Garden.  I looked around and felt very small.  It's a huge lobby with tall glass windows but feels surprisingly 70s.  But before I could process anything more I had a vision.  I have been here before.  I was small.  I was about maybe 1984/85?  I was here in the lobby with my parents and there were vendors selling stuffed unicorns and batons and day glo sticks.  The circus?  Disney on Ice?  I don't know.  But I saw it immediately and clearly.

I whipped out my phone and quickly posted to FB about my very surreal moment.  Within minutes my artist colleague Drew clarified everything:  The year was 1985.  Ringling Bro. promoted the "real live unicorn" as its draw. 

Wow.  I had totally forgotten.  But not forgotten is my white felt/fleece unicorn with its blue horn that I got that day.  I used to perch it over the headboard of my bed and there it stayed for YEARS.  Batons and day glo sticks were the rage then. I love these little moments where I revisit a past experience, especially with such intensity and clarity.  And when I remember the sights, smells and little toys of yesteryear.

Even stranger was later that evening I spoke to another women at the event, talked about how my memory works, how I don't just "remember" something but rather, see it.  How instant it is.  She, like Drew, remembered the marketing ploy of Ringling that year and nailed it as well.  Later I'd tell Dad and say, What on earth is the significance of this unicorn on May 2?

Was it a real unicorn?  I have no idea.  I'm sure then I thought it was.  Now, I'm guessing it was either a horse with a prosthetic or a goat with a horn that Ringling exploited. 

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Just A Little Boy

As a mom of a little guy about to be four...foreseeing endless baseball games in the coming years (and/or track meets, soccer games, etc.), I saw this today on FB and had to post.  It's so sweet and humbling.

I believe we all have to face/endure/forge through disappointments, set backs and as my grandfather would say, "Don't let the bastards get you down!" Teaching girls and boys about winning and losing gracefully, about team spirit, about trying and moving forward or knowing when it makes sense to walk away, how to handle the conflicts with dignity and integrity -- definitely. We have to lead with hope and compassion as well as wisdom and empathy that comes from what we've lived.  But let's not lose site of the fact that some times the boy at the plate is indeed 4 or 6 or 8 years old.  With feelings.