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.


Friday, November 3, 2017

Resolution Check-In: November Edition

I must say, I made excellent progress during the last thirty days -- at least in one area. I just might be able to fulfill all of my New Year's Resolutions. Here's how things have been going...

1) Take More Photos (At Least Two a Week)

Lots of snapshots this month. More and more, I am realizing that this iPhone camera pales in comparison to the smart-phone cameras owned by everyone else around me. But who cares, I'm having fun and recording memories. Here are a few of my favorites.

This is Mackenzie's entrance to her dorm. 

We've been visiting her as much as we can!

We're also getting a lot of quality time with our youngest. She just turned 16!!!

One of our neighbors made this unholy gathering of pumpkins and skeletons.

I call this one: "Sun Setting on Bike Rack."

We had a great time signing books at Mrs. Figs' Bookworm.

Guess who dressed up as a dead gangster?
(Notice the cement shoes?)

ACHIEVEMENT: 83% Complete

2) Write / Sell a New Picture Book

My new picture book Papa Bear's Page Fright will be in bookstores on May 1st, 2018. You can pre-order on Amazon!


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

Tackled this one during the summer. I'd still like to go for bonus points and get to work on something brand new and epic... but currently buried beneath essays. 


4) Work on a Creative Project with My Daughters

Does college count as a creative project? NO? Too bad.... Then I'm still stuck on this one. Perhaps this will finally become a priority in the last two months? 

Achievement Pending. 

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

Huzzah! I actually worked on this one... and made an enormous amount of progress. I think I had been holding myself back because I told myself that I should be making incredibly profound connections with hundreds of friends and family members. When I gave myself permission to just reach out (mostly online) and be friendly and supportive, I managed get out of my shell and start having fun being more social. I'm pulling a George W. and saying Mission Accomplished. 


6) Los Ten Pounds

Still keeping it off. I've been exercising in the morning. The scale reads anywhere from 162 to 165. However, Halloween was two days ago... so hopefully I haven't gone higher!


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Word Count Wednesday - November 1st

I got nothing this week. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

I do have a huge amount of papers to grade, so that will be occupying my time for the next 7 to 14 days, depending on how industrious I am.

What Am I Working On?

Today I got feedback regarding my latest picture book project (the dragon one). So this week I'll do my best to tinker with it yet again -- and perhaps complete an eleventh draft.

How Do I feel About the Project?

I feel blah. It's that time of year when I need to focus on teaching students and grading essays. When we get closer to Thanksgiving I will hopefully return to creative stuff.