Monday, June 29, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009


Sadie said today while we were driving, "Mom, how come no girls have ever been President or Co-President?" Aw, I think she meant "Vice President," the little dear heart.

"Well, Sweetie, I think it is just that most women do not want to hold that office. It's not really a great job and it takes people away from their families and most women want to be with their kids instead of pursuing political power and . . ." Sadie cut off my rambling train of thought.

"Well, I want power," Sadie asserted. "I want to feed on power until I'm full, and after that, I want to feed on some more power. Then," her voice dropped an octave and became flinty, determined, dangerous, "I want to drink from the cup of victory."

Are you now just a little bit frightened? I am, too.

So, anyway, I hear Evil Medical School takes about six years. We'd better start saving up.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer Reading!

It's the most wonderful time of the year -- summer reading season! This year, for the first time, I have a HUGE plan for Sadie's literary enrichment. Here is a partial list of the books I plan to read her:

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Castle Corona by Sharon Creech
The Boxcar Children (19 books) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows
Ivy and Bean and the Ghost Had to Go by Annie Barrows
Ivy and Bean Break the Fossil Record by Annie Barrows
Ivy and Bean Take Care of the Babysitter by Annie Barrows
Ivy and Bean Bound to be Bad by Annie Barrows

I'm sure I'm leaving some off -- but, never fear, she's doomed to be read to for hour upon hour this summer. Yes, I will give her liberal doses of playing in the dirt, rolling in the grass, hiking in the woods, swimming, riding horses, and general monkey-mischief betwixt and between.

Of course, the above list does not include the books I've planned for her to read independently. I am actually hoping to transfer the Boxcar Children books to that list soon -- they are nigh impossible to read aloud what with their clunky structure and insipid, repetitive dialogue. I want to die after half a chapter of drivel. But, Sadie loves the stories about four kids having adventures sans adults, and never, ever fighting -- ever (so, at least the books have realism going for them, right?).

As for me, well, so far I've been immersed in some oldies but goodies: Chesterton's Orthodoxy (which I do not think can be read too many times) and Isabel Paterson's The Golden Vanity (I have a first edition from 1934). I will write on the latter at Singing Sparrow next week. I am a little ashamed to confess that the book up after Vanity is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Yes. Sorry. So, anyway, a review of that ought to be up soon on Austensorium. Janeites, you know you're curious. Admit it.

Other than that, I'll be researching faeries. This is very serious scholarly work. Indeed.

This, my favorite quote about the importance of passing on a heritage of language and literature, keeps running through my mind of late:

If you love the language, the greatest thing you can do to ensure its survival is not to complain about bad usage but to pass your enthusiasm to a child. Find a child and read to him often the things you admire, not being afraid to read the classics.--Robert Macneil, Wordstruck: A Memoir

A beautiful thought -- and, like all beautiful things, true.

What are YOU reading this summer?

Monday, June 15, 2009

What To Do in Seattle This Weekend

There is really only one thing you MUST do in Seattle this upcoming weekend, and that is catch one of the few remaining shows of Taproot Theatre's "Around the World in 80 Days." It is, perhaps, flawless. My husband said after we saw last Saturday's matinee that it was the best show he has ever seen, anywhere. Our daughter, Sadie, who is six years old was captivated from beginning to end. There is nothing not to love about this show.

I have never read the Jules Verne novel upon which this play is based. Nor have I seen the extravagant 1956 movie version starring David Niven. So, other than a general idea gleaned from cultural awareness, I had no idea what to expect. Taproot Theatre is a tiny venue. How, I wondered, were they going to get a hot air balloon in there? We have all have imprinted in our collective subconscious the image of Phileas Fogg and Passepartout lifting upward in such a buoyed basket. Ah, film is a powerful medium, even when you're talking simply about poster art. No one travels by hot air balloon in the book -- and so, much to the set designer's relief I am sure, no one travels such in Taproot's play.

But still, from the moment the reticent, painfully reserved, and unnervingly mysterious English gentleman, Phileas Fogg, makes his bet against the other members of the Reform Club that he can travel -- in 1872, mind you -- well, around the world in eighty days, the play is non-stop action on train, steamer, elephant, and even a sailboat/sledge hybrid that got presumably great mileage in the prairie winters. You can imagine that that would leave a set designer with even a multi-million dollar budget and the Ratchada Grand in Bangkok to work with scratching his head in dismay.

And this is why Mark Lund is a genius. Faced with the travails of designing for an heart-poundingly epic and exotic adventure, he created a set that is a marvel of simplicity. Let's see, there was a versatile trunk, a couple of crates, a stool or two, and a giant map of the world as a backdrop (which concealed several surprise doors and windows). That's it. You want a train? Watch the actors rhythmically jiggle in unison to imitate the rolling motion over the tracks. Want a ship caught in a typhoon? See if you don't scream a little like Sadie did when the actors come careening toward you in the hectic beating glare of a strobe light. Want a elephant? They'll build you one right on the stage out of . . . a trunk, a couple crates and a stool or two.

There are 34 characters in this play. Taproot's production used five actors. Of those, only Phileas himself (played to perfection by Ryan Childers) was not a split personality. Even the ubiquitous Passepartout had to share his skin (that of the incomparable Nolan Palmer) with another character. One remarkable fellow, Andrew Litzky, appeared in 18 roles -- which is a dizzying prospect for a two-hour play. But Taproot Theatre always has amazing actors. Alyson Scadron Branner was a lovely and believable Aouda (and 3 other characters!); Bill Johns was an adorable and not-at-all menacing Monsieur Detectamafix (and 8 other characters!!).

The ultimate hats off must go to the director, Scott Nolte, for his bold vision in bringing such a vivid, wild, and kinetic story into such an intimate setting. He made it work. Not only that, he made it a beautiful, enchanting, seamless, entertaining work of art. As you leave, you say to yourself, "This, this is why we need theatre. This is what theatre is about." Taproot's "Around the World in 80 Days" will uplift your spirits -- no hot air balloon required.

If you are poking around the web, looking for something to do in Seattle this weekend, I hope you find this blog post. Forget Pike's Place Market; shun the Space Needle; forget the gorgeous scenery and hikes and general Puget Sound living. All that stuff will still be around 2 weeks from now. Go see "Around the World in 80 Days"! This is the last weekend, and then *poof* it's gone. You'll be sorry to have missed it.
Taproot Theatre's Box Office: 206-781-9707

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Turn Around and You're Two . . . Turn Around and You're Four . . . Turn Around and You're A Young Girl Going Out of the Door

In case you do not remember, this is what my daughter, Sadie, looked like in June 2005, six months after I started this blog:

And, just earlier today, that same little Pumpkin Face graduated from Kindergarten:

Sadie at home this morning before going to school.

Sadie and her Kindergarten teacher, Miss Gunst.

Where are you going, my little one, little one? Where are you going, my baby, my own?

(Yes, I'm crying as I type this.)

Congratulations, little Sadie-Bug! Mama and Daddy are so proud of you!