Spring Blues

March 29 ???

March 29 ???

What is it with Chicago weather? Spring officially arrived a week ago. And yet…

First on Saturday I sat for 2 1/2 hours in 30 degree weather watching my son’s home baseball opener. It took all 5 layers of clothing to keep me warm through seven innings. Too bad the game went eight.

Then we wake up Sunday to this.

Bye Bye Birdie

My son finished his successful off, off, off  Broadway run in Bye Bye Birdie. These are a few of the videos we took with our cheap digital camera (which is my way of making excuses for the quality).

These videos are from the March 21 and 22 productions. They speak for themselves.

Mouse In The House

house_mouse1Mouse In The House would be a cute name for a children’s story. It is less fun and fanciful as reality. Three nights ago one of our cats leaped into our bed at around 3 AM and ran around frantically in circles then jumped off and back on the bed running in more circles. In my barely awake haze I thought this must be like a Lassie adventure and she is trying to tell us that something is wrong with our son or the barn is on fire. No idea.

The next day she hardly moved which is also odd behavior for this one. If she had been acting strange one more day we were going to call the vet.

Then last night at 4:20 AM she is again running around our be like a crazy kitty. As my wife reached to pet her she felt something that was definitely not cat. I flipped on the light to see a small mouse curled up in the middle of our bed. Our Crash was standing over the mouse basically saying, “Here. This is what you needed to see at this ungodly hour of the morning. this is why I have been running all around you on the bed. A gift.”

The mouse was not moving. My wife ran downstairs to get a garbage bag while I watched Crash alternatively stare at and pick up the mouse in her mouth. Yeech. Not knowing if the mouse was dead or maintaining the theatrical heritage of the house (see It’s Showtime! post) and playing possum. I had not desire to chase or be bitten by this creature. I scooped it up, tied the bag closed, ran downstairs and through the thing out the back door. The next morning I tossed the bag in the garbage.

Needless to say that though we now had a calm cat we were wide awake. OK, actually my wife was wide awake. I could have been back to sleep in seconds but she needed to talk. We wipped the blanket that the mouse had been on off the bed at lightning speed and tried to fall asleep after first praising our mouse killer.

Worried that we may be raising a family we had the exterminator over today. He showed us where the rats had been sleeping. In crawl spaces we never opened, in the cabinet under our kitchen sink and even under our oven. Traps and poison were laid. For days Crash had been hanging out near these spots and now we know why. We also have no idea why Cody, our other cat showed no interest in the mice. Cody had on a couple of occasions brought birds to us that she had captured in the back yard. Apparently mice are beneath our huntress kitty.

One last oddity to this story. In all the years we had people come to our home to fix things, none had the pure joy for his job as this exterminator. He was practically singing as he worked. I have to admit I love to see someone enjoying their work but this seemed a bit odd. As odd as waking up in the middle of the night to a Mouse In The House.

IT’S SHOWTIME!

What a weekend. I spent Friday night being entertained by a brilliant young actor in his first stage role followed Saturday by a veteran performer who sang and danced like she has been on stage from birth.

And all this talent lives in my our house.

My son D took auditioned a few months ago for his first theatrical production. Everything outside of school has been athletics. I was thrilled that he stepped out of his comfort zone.

The play is Bye Bye Birdie. Honestly since he had no acting experience, no formal dance lessons and while he sings constantly in the house only about half the notes are in tune. Our expectations were that he might make the chorus. Not my son.

Hugo Peabody. For those who have seen the movie this role was played by teen idol Bobby Rydell. He is the boyfriend to Kim MacAfee, played by Ann-Margret. This is the fourth biggest male part in the play.

In this production, Hugo acts and dances but does not sing. He does do a handspring early in the first act. With D  burning the candle at both ends, starting most days at 6 am for baseball workouts and finishing rehearsals at 11 pm, for weeks now I was not sure how he would react to the pressure of opening night. What pressure. From his first line to the handspring to his dance with Kim (including a lift) and every other moment on he was on stage he was on fire. 

I know I am playing the role of the adoring parent but those that know me know that I am prone to brutal honestly and can be a touch critical. There was nothing to criticize, just a performance to enjoy. He delivered his lines with the air of a jealous high school kid, which is what his character is. He moved naturally across the stage and executed his dance number like a pro.

Right up there with the joy of watching my son was watching my son with a bunch of his buddies. Joey, Richie, David, Asher, Jon, and Mark and several others have been hanging around our house for years and years. What fun to be seeing them all act and dance on the same stage.

Several parents came up to me after the show, as well as one couple in a restaurant the next night, to tell me how well he did. I am proud. I am happy for him. He may or may not avail himself of opportunities to be on stage again. As one who believes in multi-faceted people I hope he does. And then I get to go to another show.

And this was just Friday.

Friday night people were asking me if my wife was at the show as well. No, my wife was in a performance of her own. Fortunately her show started last weekend and ends this weekend. D’s started Friday and runs next weekend as well.  So she will see the remaining 4 performance of his show–like a true mother. (Tickets still available if you are interested.)

Saturday I saw the closing night of my wife’s show.  Evey year The Women’s Club of Evanston produces a musical comedy review as a fundraiser for a local charity. My wife has participated for about 10 years. This year’s show was titled “Not Tonight Dear, I Have A Haddock”. Thirty three numbers in all.

My wife starred in such numbers as “Brain” in which she was a beautiful Zombie and “Fugue For Cyberchondriacs” in which she plays a nurse to people who self-diagnoseusing the Internet. She had a singing solo in “We All Live In The World…” in which people wistfully remember the days before recycling. Unfortunately she had some of the worst lyrics to sing including the words, verklempt, monkey snot and toe jam.

Overall, the lyrics were clever, the singing of high quality, the men had their annual dress as women number and the laughs came frequently and the dancing dazzled. Not bad for a group of amateurs.

At one time during the weekend as I told the story of my talented family a comparison was made to the Von Trapp family of Sound Of Music fame. That must make me the odd “Uncle Max”. No on stage talent in me.

Fortunately I will be able to retire as soon as talented my wife and/or talented son are discovered and become stars.

Expectations

Sunday morning I spent chastising, maybe even yelling at, my 18 year old son because once again he put his academics after having fun; not that he agreed. Because he is not meeting the expectations I set for him he gets much criticism and little praise.

Sunday afternoon I spent with my 42 year old autistic sister. I read books to and with her. As she sounded out about 2/3 of the words of a Dr. Seuss book I praised her constantly. I was so surprised and happy for her–she was just happy.

Maybe praise and happy are better.

Inspiring Moment

One moment and I was overcome.

Driving home on Lake Shore Drive listening to an NPR story about a group of women in their 90s (oldest being 96) who will be having their Bat Mitzvahs in a a couple of weeks. Since this is the coming of age ceremony most Jewish girls have at 13 this was to be quite the event.

Listening to 91 year young Flo Wish discuss the happiness she felt. In the 1930s when she and the other women would have had their Bat Mitzvahs, they were not allowed. At that time Jewish women were not treated to the same religious rights as Jewish men.  I was inspired listening to this articulate woman– certainly more articulate than any three 30 year olds– tell her story.

As the story was ending I happened to glance to my right. In general the view was of Lincoln park and people exercising in the above freezing weather. Specifically, just as Flo signed off I noticed a guy running. He was a double amputee running with two metal running “legs”.

I lost my breadth. The convergence of the radio story and this visual overloaded my brain.

We have the ability to do virtually anything we set out to achieve. A divine message directed to me? Who knows. Stay tuned.

91 Year Old Flo Wise

91 Year Old Flo Wise

Oscar Pictorius

Oscar Pictorius

Saving Another’s Life

What does saving a life do to the life of the one who saves it? It seems clear that the one saved feels gratitude and has their life extended. Maybe that person lives the remaining years differently because they are “free” years that they would not have had– but maybe not.

But what about the person who does something heroic to save another? What do they get? Does their life change?

This is what ran through my mind as I read this story in the Chicago Tribune. The facts are that a Chicago police officer went to extraordinary lengths, risking his own life, to save a man trapped in a burning apartment building. The Officer, Timothy Gould age 54 and an 18 year veteran, heard cries for help. He tried to reach the apartment where the voice was coming from but was turned back by flames, kept his head and went around the back, breaking the window climbed in calling to the man and shining his flashlight. By now thick smoke filled the room but he never gave up eventually reaching 68 year old James Wesley and then carrying him out of the building.

A life saved.

So an article in the paper, a mention in a few blogs and maybe a day of fame.  I can not envision myself going into a burning building to try to save a stranger. I hope I would but I have strong doubts.

So what about Timothy Gould?

I can only hope that this man has a sense of pride that enhances the rest of his life. If I were king, people like him would receive a more tangible reward. Something that would be life changing. Why not.

It is not that the deed should not be its own reward, it should. But so many people make tons of money for becoming celebrities with no real talents, making no real sacrifices and adding little to our world. Why not share some with people who make a difference.

What more can one do than to save a life?