30 April 2009

So Cool I Couldn't Keep It To Myself

This morning Frank told me about the episode of Mythbusters he watched last night. Apparently, it involved a million Legos:

The ball fell apart into, literally, a million pieces.

OK, so that's cool in and of itself (we are, of course, a Lego-centric household). But what grabbed my attention was that the Mythbusters team borrowed the million Legos from Nathan Sawaya, a NYC-based artist whose medium is, you guessed it, Legos.

This is some of his amazing work:

Pretty damn cool, no?

29 April 2009

This Ain't St. Elsewhere

A week or two ago, I downloaded The Empire Of The Sun's debut compilation, Walking On A Dream. It was one of those $1.99 daily deals on Amazon. I've been grooving to it off and on since. The first single, the title track, sounds like David Gruesin's theme for St. Elsewhere, the awesome Dr. drama from the 80's (which I loved), or Vangelis's Chariots of Fire - lots and lots of synth. Very, very 80's with a modern twist in the vocals (some critics compare them to MGMT but I find them softer and not as nihilistic as MGMT).

Empire Of The Sun hail from Australia and, to me, they look like Kajagoogoo rejects or David Bowie's Goblin King in Labyrinth. And even though they don't have the vocal power behind their lyrics, I can't help but mentally compare them to fellow Ozzies, Air Supply. Maybe it's just because EOTS sound like they just stepped out of 1983.

But I dig most of the songs on their album, especially this one. They're pretty dancey.


28 April 2009

Of Cults and First Communions

Because my kids attend a Catholic school, special Church occasions like receiving certain sacraments (Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Confirmation) are built into the school calendar. My son's first communion was one such occasion. For those of you non-Catholics out there we take communion every time we can get it (some people attend daily Mass, others like my family and I attend Sunday service). And Church doctrine states that the priest actually transforms the host and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. So receiving the sacrament of communion for the first time is kind of a big deal. The boys get dressed up and the girls, well, they look like little brides dressed all in white, veils and all.

Evan's first communion was last Saturday.

And my mother blew it off for a singing competition.

A few months ago my mom asked me when Evan's first communion would be held. I told her it had been on the school calendar since August and was scheduled for Saturday, April 25th.

"Oh, well, I won't be there. That's Sweet Adelines competition," she said.


At the time I was too gobsmacked to say anything. I figured she'd see how ludicrous she was being to ditch her only grandson's big day for her singing group's competition.


My mother's been singing with the cult of Sweet Adelines for about a decade or so. At first my sister and I thought it was great: it gave her a hobby, kept her off the streets. Her favorite aunt, Dottie, was a director for an internationally-known Sweet Adelines group and I think this is where my mom got the idea. Music has always been part of her life and I'm happy that she found an outlet for her creativity.

But now it's a bit too much. Sweet Adelines has slowly, but surely taken over her life and totally brainwashed her. I don't know, maybe she's been hypnotized by glare coming off all the sequins on their spangly costumes. I mean, really, choosing the choir over family just pisses me off. And I even tried to enlist the aid of one of my mom's friends, a teacher at my children's school and fellow Sweet Adeliner. "Mrs. W, I need your help. Could you tell my mom that first communion is more important than competition?" I asked her at lunch one day. Wanna know what she told me? "Take pictures." Yeah, this from a Catholic school teacher! See? Cult.

And Evan was let down that one of his grandmothers wasn't there. "Doesn't she know that family's more important than things?" he asked me in the car on the way home from school one day. I told him I agreed wholeheartedly with him and that he should take it up with his grandmother.

But even though Evan was disappointed in his Nana, he was happy the rest of our family was there for him: my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and her family drove down from Chicago and Frank's cousin and her family were in town for the Science Olympiad state finals and were represented by their oldest daughter (their son was competing), my sister and her family were there as well as my step-brother and his family (including my new niece, 4-week-old Nicole).

Evan looked rather dashing in his suit and signature red bow-tie. My mother-in-law does not throw things away. Case in point: she still had the suit Frank wore for his first communion. Evan wore it, too. He looked straight outta '78 in his 3-piece Pierre Cardin blue polyester suit. The pants were a little too flared for my personal taste, but Evan was happy. "Three-piece suits aren't in vogue anymore?" Frank asked.

Uh, no. I tried to get Evan to pose like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, but he wouldn't.

My son's first communion went very well, though he said afterwards, "The communion wine tastes horrible!" (and he was very relieved to hear that he does not have to drink it every Sunday).

So we're good until the next big deal: Flynn's first communion in two years. And you know she'll be all kinds of decked out.

I'm hoping there won't be a Sweet Adelines competition scheduled for that weekend as well.

21 April 2009

Perfect for Decompressing

My favorite disc to chill out to lately is Andrew Bird's Noble Beast. This song, "Oh No", is the first track and sets the mellow, yet incredibly musical vibe for the thirteen songs to follow. Bird plays a variety of instruments on this compilation including the a masterful guitar and violin.

He's also an expert whistler.

Kick back, relax and enjoy this live version, the best of the lot to choose from on YouTube.

17 April 2009

Owly, The Cutest Owl In The World

I know it's super-duper gorgeous outside today, but take a moment and read my review of Andy Runton's Owly comic over at The Full Mommy, OK? OK.

16 April 2009

Because The Sun Is Shining

A little fun Fred Schneider for a sunny Spring day. I love this song, "Monster", from Fred's solo album Fred Schneider and the Shake Society. Kate Pierson, also of The B-52's, sings on four of the album's tracks (including this one). That's her in the video, too, and Tina Weymouth of The Talking Heads makes an appearance as well.

This song hearkens back to my college days and maybe I'm a little nostalgic lately because I'm in the midst of compiling mix discs for a reunion coming up in a couple of weeks.

So. much. fun.

Get up and dance.

If this fails to make you shake your booty, notify your next of kin because I'm afraid you are dead.

13 April 2009

Q: Wanna Know What's Torture?

A: Going to Chicago's Brookfield Zoo on a glorious, sunny Saturday afternoon and leaving the camera at home.

Yep, we traveled north to my mother-in-law's home Friday evening and as we merged onto I-57 I remembered the camera. Everything else was packed: Easter goodies for the kinder (my 2 plus 2 nieces and 2 cousins), clothes (except I forgot dress socks for Evan), birthday gifts for my sister-in-law, and the assorted flotsam and jetsam that comes along for the ride (Evan and Flynn's blankies, stuffed animals, pillows, etc.). Everything except the camera, the one item I almost always bring.


So instead of viewing what were sure to be awesome photos, you'll have to use your imaginations.

And of course the polar bears were surprisingly active, as were the gorilla babies (chasing each other all over their environment, one running back to its mother when the play got a little too rough - my mother-in-law and I could've watched them all day), a tiny cotton-top tamarin was not six feet from me, just hanging out on a branch over the path through the primate exhibit. He was so cool, chirping away at his admirers. A grizzly bear was curled up asleep next to the window looking into his open-air enclosure. He was hugging a traffic cone.

I tried not to agonize over the missed photo opportunities.

We also walked through the new dinosaur exhibit, Dinos Alive!. It had just opened last weekend and displayed 18 animatronic dinos ranging in size from a massive Ruyang Yellow River dino to the smallish Baryonyx. My little boy was in dinosaur heaven. Flynn, not so much, but afterwards proclaimed to have enjoyed it. Evan was disappointed there was no Velociraptor, but quickly got over it and LOVED walking down the path through the robot dino habitats, four of which zoogoers were allowed to manipulate from interactive remote-control panels. I wish I had a picture of Evan working the Allosaurus controls. Or one of the look on his face as he triggered the motion sensor on the Baryonyx. He must have jumped a foot into the air as the puppet moved and growled.


I think I need to leave a camera in the car at all times.

07 April 2009

Film Review: The Tale of Despereaux

Find out what I thought of the DVD version of The Tale of Despereaux here.

06 April 2009

Maybe Just One More

I was with the 4th graders again today and will be with them tomorrow as well. Generally, I enjoy my days with them; they're smart and funny, though at times I could staple their butts to their chairs and put tape over their mouths.

Today during reading class we were discussing "judgments" and "decisions." In their text book was this still from Charlie Chaplin's classic 1939 film Modern Times:
We were discussing man's role with machinery/technology and I told them a little about 1930's American life. Echoing my previous experience, one kid pipes up with "Were you there?"

I was temporarily speechless then 20 other 9-year-olds jumped to my defense. "She's not that old!", "She's young!", "You never ask a woman about her age or her weight. Don't you know anything?" Then they wanted to know what my age is. I told them. I have nothing to hide.

One little boy said, "39? No way. I thought you were 27."

I now want to adopt this precious, precious child.

05 April 2009

An Interesting Mental Image To Say The Least

Yesterday, the family and I bundled into the car and headed out to do some plant shopping. Well, it was more like window shopping since we weren't planning on buying anything; just getting ideas for when we have the time, like in May, when we can put things in the ground.

As we're heading north on Staley Road, we passed a construction site.

Evan pipes up with, "Hey, look! It's a portal potty."

Frank said, "Yeah. It's called the T.U.R.D.I.S."