Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Resolution Check-In: December Edition

Well, here we are, the last few weeks of 2017. It's been a wild ride, filled with mostly blessings. Let me tell you, this year was WAY better than 2016. (Knock on wood!). I hope this year has been a prosperous one for you as well, in all the ways that matter.

This is the penultimate New Years Resolution post for 2017. I'll have one more wrap up at the beginning of January to reflect upon the year overall. So, let's see how things have been going...

1) Take More Photos 

I am definitely taking a lot more photos thanks to my trusty (and a little bit rusty) iPhone. As you can tell, if you follow this blog, the photos are grainy and wracked with poor composition. But I have a good time. And next year's resolution will be about becoming a better photographer. For now, it's more about quantity instead of quality. (Which is why I challenged myself to take at least two a week.)

Here's my Mom! We're trying the new pasta place. 
Mom comes to visit every Halloween and November to celebrate
the girls' birthday. 

And here's one of the birthday girls! Celebrating in her dorm room!

This is during a photo shoot for our upcoming Christmas card. 
(It looks like it's the middle of August, right?)

This is from the Griffith Observatory... a field trip with Emily. 

This is a shot from the back of the house for Holipalooza, 
a Christmas fundraiser at the Canyon Theatre Guild.

And here's some of the Christmas lights on Main Street. 

Doggie selfie!

ACHIEVEMENT: 92% Complete

2) Write / Sell a New Picture Book

I've seen the artwork for my new picture book Papa Bear's Page Fright, which is headed to bookstores on May 1st, 2018. You can pre-order on Amazon!


3) Generate New Idea for Next Big Project (Complete 25%)

I was able to accomplish this one during the tail end of summer vacation. 


4) Work on a Creative Project with My Daughters

Hey -- good news, I'm actually making progress on this one! Emily, Cheri, and I are participating in an improv/comedy fundraiser for a wonderful family who has had an incredibly tough year.

If all goes well, this Friday the show will be a smashing success, we'll raise money for a worthy cause, and then this goal will be accomplished.


5) Show My Appreciation More Often / Strengthen Relationships and Communication

Yep. I finally finished this one last month. 


6) Lose Ten Pounds

Still at an average of 165 pounds, so still good in this category too. 


That's it for now. I'll check back in at the beginning of 2018 for the final results, and a brand new batch of resolutions!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

December is Here!

Wow -- I haven't posted since Nov. 24th, and it seems like there's a lot that's been going on. Sorry I've ignored the Blog for a whole week. A big part of it was because I was getting through school work (both for my own classes, not to mention proofreading essays and transporting daughters to and from college campuses).

So, let's catch up, shall we?

The big thing going on right now is HOLIDAY HAMS...

This is an Improv-Christmas-Comedy Show to benefit a local Santa Clarita family, the Roberts. (I'll tell you more about them in an upcoming blog post.) A bunch of theater-friends have come together to help out, and hopefully make some people laugh.

We have met twice so far, and the rehearsals are rough around the edges... but very fun!

If you live southern California and you'd like to attend, it's happening Friday, Dec. 8th... starting at 8pm. You can get tickets here! 

This was the third to last week of school (until Xmas break), and this is the time of year where the students really shine because they are presenting their research topics to the rest of the class. I've got an impressive group of students this semester -- and best of all I have yet to find a plagiarized essay. That hasn't happened in all my 16 years of teaching!

Well, that's all for now. Type to you soon.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sahara Nights & Christine Shaefer

Somewhere, in the middle of Indiana, in a town called Greenfield (a place I have never been but hope to visit someday), kids are getting ready to perform one of my plays, a comic twist on the tale Scheherazade called SAHARA NIGHTS. Also somewhere in that town, there is a woman named Christine C. Shaefer. Here she is in all her glory:

She is one of the world's bravest heroes: a children's theater director.

That used to be my kind of gig back in the 1990s.... when I was young! That was back when I had the energy to shout (AKA project) at the top of my lungs, keep the attention of over fifty children for hours upon hours, work out the blocking, create a set with zero budget, figure out costumes and props (AKA visit lots of thrift stores), and play diplomat to dozens of parents who were convinced that little Suzy should have more lines.  It was exhausting! So, now I only write these plays.

But Christine is still living the dream. How she maintains this level of energy without resorting to performance-enhancing drugs, I'll never know. I do know that I am exceedingly grateful to her, and not just because she often chooses my shows. Although, let me humble-brag about that for a moment...

Christine's theater KIDS PLAY INC has performed so many of my shows that I've lost count. And they've not only done some of my popular shows, such as CSI: NEVERLAND...

They've also chosen some of my most obscure comedies, including my tribute to film critics Sikel and Ebert...

So, yes, I'm grateful that she and her cast and crew continue to perform my silly little plays. But mainly, I am just thankful that there are people like her who are still using the stage to bring stories to life and to guide children as they experience their first adventures in the Theatre.

These photos from their most recent production, SAHARA NIGHTS, show the amazing talents of the KidsPlay Team...

Here's their humble rehearsal / performance space. (They deserve a huge amphitheater as far as I'm concerned.) Yet even with this minimal space (which I believe they have named "the Dungeon") they can still pull off great production value!

Colorful costumes!

Carpets that fly! (With your imagination.) 

And did someone say BEATLES? 

So, thank you from the bottom of this playwright's heart! I hope that the cast and crew create enough memories and that your theater days inspire the next generation of Christine Schaefers.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Busy, Tired, and a Little Bit Sick

My family has been grappling with a cold. For a long time I avoided catching it. But then I accidentally drank from Emily's water glass, and two days later I've got a sore throat

It was rough the first day (Monday). I seriously contemplated calling in sick, but I didn't want to let my students down! (Yes, I know in reality they would be overjoyed to have the day off, but in my imagnation they are gathered around a notice on the door, wailing in sorrow over my well being, praying for a speedy recovery.)

Today it's just a minor cold, and hopefully it will be completely gone before the weekend.

Last weekend was my eldest daughter's 19th birthday. We visited her on campus, delivering bags and bags of presents (as well as her boyfriend, which I am guessing was her favorite present of all.)

We also watched the UC Irvine theater department's production of CHESS. I spent much of my teen years listening to both the British and American cast albums; it was a blast to finally witness the story on stage. It's an odd musical, to be sure, but beautiful nonetheless.

As far as my writing projects, things are slow. I'm not hearing thing back regarding the Kitten Book. I recently added rhymes to my Dragon Book, which may or may not please my agent. I've got some drama ideas in the works, but nothing solid yet.

Most days I guess I feel that I am not living up to my potential as an artist, but I try to take solace in the fact that I'm doing the best I can as a husband and a father. For the most part, that chases the angst away.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Free Time on Friday???

It's been weeks since I've had spare time! I've been buried under those essays for so long my brain is more than a bit fried. So that's why today has felt so good. No school. No papers to grade. Just hanging out with family.

Speaking of family, my Mom is in town!

Here we are in a selfie taken by my crappy iPhone 4 camera.

The funny thing is, I haven't been doing very much with my free time. I should be jumping into a new novel, since it's NaNoWriMo. (A writerly tradition in which I have yet to partake.)

I did do one creative thing today. I wrote Draft #12 of my Dragon Picture Book. This time it rhymes... which is probably not a good thing. We'll see what my agent thinks. I have a feeling the Draft #13 is forthcoming.

What else did I do today? My mom bought me some older video games (that were dirt cheap at Game Stop), and so I played a few innings of this baseball game...

I created my own character. His name is Wade the Bade. But the announcers call me Big Daddy. Yeah, I'm pretty much an overnight sports icon. 

So, when I haven't been revising dragons, playing electronic baseball, or walking the dogs, I have spent some of my day preparing for my work week. Checking emails, preparing lesson plans, drafting a report for an upcoming meeting. What the hell is wrong with me???

Thursday, November 9, 2017

To Life!

I am really late to this wedding party. My daughter showed this to me on YouTube today. It's from Lin Manuel Miranda's reception in which he (and all of their friends and family) surprise his new bride, Vanessa. (Recognize that name from In the Heights?)

Emily and I agree -- Lin-Manuel is the most brilliantly adorable goofball on Broadway.