Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Other Lisa Yee

Novelist Other Lisa Yee, my not-quite alter ego1, made it to a Top 10 list!: Top 10 Chinese American Children's Books, age 2-14. Yaaaaaay! Go Millicent Min!

1 Does that make me Clark Kent? Not at all. It's someone entirely different who writes novels. But she and I have the same name, so I claim them as "my" books.

I highly recommend Other Lisa Yee's books, and I loan my copies out frequently. Her Millicent, Emily, Stanford, and Marley, her Ivy, and her Bobby are fabulous characters. Their families are great too.2 It is great to have strong, nonstereotypical Asians in kid lit!

2 Maybe is my favorite of Other Lisa Yee's characters so far, but she's not in the least Asian. Although her mom once taught people to be "ethnical".

Other Lisa Yee is also a prolific blogger, and just as friendly in person as she comes across on paper. She also travels with Peepy, who loves getting photographed in exotic locales and with famous people. I should have gotten my photo taken with Peepy when she was in town; it would make Kevin Bacon games so much easier for me. But I did get my photo taken with "me".

This particular list puts Other Lisa Yee in great company. I've read about half these titles and very much enjoyed them. I commend to you specifically In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord3, and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin4.

3 Bette Bao Lord also wrote Spring Moon, an adult novel which spans five generations of Chinese history. One of my favorite books.
4 I also call Grace Lin "Other Ah-Ma", because my nieces' and nephew's grandmother shares her name.

TIL Johnny Cash is a stamp!

source: MTV Hive

You can't buy them yet.  If you could, better believe I would've after a laborious trip to the USPS today.  But they'll be released on June 5.  (I seem to show up at the Post Office the week before the coolest stamps are released.  I was in the week before the Cherry Blossom Centennial stamps were released, too.)

How Johnny Cash Became a Forever Stamp tells about the photoshoot for the Cash's Best Of album, back in 1963.

It was a good year for Cash, one of his best in a very long time. Things were heating up with June Carter, the love of his life who later helped get him sober, and his career as a singer-songwriter was finally taking off...

[The photographer] wasn’t thrilled with the black and white photos he took that day, and Columbia ultimately chose a color shot for the album, which seemed just as well. But fifty years later the photo has surfaced again, this time as part of the U.S. postal service’s Music Icons series.

And evidently Ray Charles is next in line. 

source: USPS blog Stamp of Approval

kid quotes - VBS

This summer, our church is doing Big Fish's Gotta Move VBS, focusing on the Fruit of the Spirit. (Join us! Mornings, June 17-20.)

We turned the CD on in the car today, and the kidlets started listening to it while I ran back into the house for something. I returned to the car to M's cries of:
Aunt Lisa! Come quick!
The song said that God is so big, so strong, and so NAUGHTY?!?!?

Evidently "mighty" isn't a word that crossed his mind.

Monday, May 27, 2013


TIL Johnny Cash read for audiobook the whole of the New Testament, in KNJV.
Furthermore, it has been wholly transferred to YouTube as well!
Here's the whole 27-book playlist. (There are 28 tracks, but 1Timothy is double-listed. I wonder if the compiler had a particular word from God, or was in need of one?)

Some tangential notes:
  • Big Frog's an auditory learner. When we read books together I get the print version and he the book-on-CD and it works much better that way for us.
  • Ring of Fire was a delightful movie and we were glad to see five Peasalls in it.
  • When Big Frog sings karaoke, which isn't often, so don't hold you breath, his go-to song is Folsum Prison Blues.
  • Flavorfest

    We love FlavorFest at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire1.  Free admission, free parking, free wine tastings, and local musicans and artisans -- what's not to love?  I think we've gone every year since its inception in 2008.

    1Like the Farm Show, the Faire can be a location as well as an event. We go to the Renaissance Faire, weekends in August-October, and are particularly glad that our friends Barely Balanced will be returning this year, if only for one weekend of their zany cross-country schedule. But we also love FlavorFest, which happens on the fairegrounds over Memorial Day Sat & Sun. 

    We particularly enjoy following local musicians2. Our perennial favorites are Indian Summer Jars, and this year we also very much enjoyed Adam Blessing (especially his secret song, #9). We were able to hear parts or whole sets of four additional groups, and we still missed a few. Other years we've delightedly discovered Rising Regina and Vinegar Creek Constituency.

    We made it to three of four Indian Summer Jars sets over the weekend, and Sarah and Sarah-Beth responded to my "FB-ed "If you don't have Niagra in the setlist already, I'm going to request it!" by adding a fiddler to take it to the next level. Enjoy!

    (I am inordinately proud of how this batch of photos came out. Less pleased with the sound quality, but for a voice recorder on an mp3 player, it's pretty darn good.)

    2 The first year, however, what actually drew us to the event was the Peasall Sisters, who we knew from their voice work on O Brother Where Art Thou?

    And, admittedly, we knew them to be the Peasall Sisters and not just the Wharvey Gals because of their guest appearance on O Veggie Where Art Thou, featuring Bob the Tomato and Larry Cucumber.

    They also will be in TONIGHT's movie Ring of Fire, about June Carter Cash.  9/8Central on Lifetime!  Leah Peasall plays teen June, with her sisters Sarah & Hannah as the other members of the Carter Sisters for the teen part of the movie.  Also, their younger sisters Emma and Julia are two-thirds of the child part.  FWIW, Leah grows up to be Jewel.  In my mind, not having seen the movie yet, it's a bit like River Phoenix growing up to be Harrison Ford in Last Crusade.

    For more information on the making of the movie, I commend to you Sarah's blog posts Movie-Making Memories and The Story of a Lifetime and Action and other Film Terminology.  I am super excited for them!

    We also love artisan demos. Historical Glassworks demoed making a 3-stemmed decanter, which is possibly the neatest hand-blown-glass piece ever. Once the molten glass bubble is blown and elongated, the sides are flattened into a triangle, and then the glassblower inhales to collapse the triangular bubble into three tubes. Wine is therefore aerated while being poured in and out, in addition to having much surface area as it sits in the wide bottom of the decanter.

    Slideshow -- all my own images.

    Sunday, May 26, 2013

    Bookworms unite!

    What a great post on 25 signs you're addicted to books! I find every single one of them applies to me except for #15. By my bedside it looks more like the end of a Jenga game, not the beginning.

    Saturday, May 25, 2013

    Endings come with new beginnings

    This phrase has crossed my life twice in the last week, and from as different of sources as it is possible to have.

    One was Megan Hart's novel, A Space Between Us, which I must admit I wouldn't have picked up except that Cupboard Maker Books had her in for a recent booksigning, following which she stayed for book club.

    The other was John Addison, Primerica's co-CEO, on the occasion of the grand opening of our new Home Office outside Atlanta.

    I wonder what endings and new beginnings God has in store?

    Happy National Tap Dance Day!

    source: Capezio

    May 25 is National Tap Dance Day, the date selected because it's the birthday of Bojangles. (I knew a man Bojangles and he danced for you/in worn out shoes) According to Wiki, some celebrate it by doing the Shim Sham Shimmy (shuffle step, shuffle step, shuffle ball-change, shuffle step, etc) in the streets. Evidently flash mobs are not as new a phenomena as some might think.

    Growing up, I always wanted to tap. When different organizations sent home lists of available dance classes, I always looked for tap. I never took up dance, of any kind, until joining Vicki's Tap Pups in 2008, but I always knew that that was the genre that had my heart.
    Some of my favorite tappers, in no particular order, include:

    Gregory Hines, here performing for and with Sammy Davis Jr

    (My favorite Gregory Hines clip is in Will & Grace, when Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) challenges him to a tap-off, but I couldn't find that bit on YouTube. If you find it, please, send it my way.)

    Gene Kelly, who even wears taps in a field of heather on a hill in a town that doesn't exist.
    Here he is with Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor. Debbie Reynolds once said that she was a novice hoofer when she got on set with these guys, but she sure doesn't show it!

    Also, Gene Kelly in Ballin' the Jack, followed by a chair medley with Donald O'Connor

    Vera Ellen in White Christmas

    Ann Miller (it should be noted that Kiss Me, Kate was originally filmed in 3D, which is why she randomly throws things at the camera)

    Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (doing everything Astaire did, backwards and in heels)

    Arthur Duncan on the Lawrence Welk Show

    Savion Glover

    Tap Dogs, in whose honor the Tap Pups were named

    and of course the Rockettes.

    (also, here is a Wall Street Journal behind the scenes bit on the Rockettes)

    I leave you with the Tap-off from Gregory Hines' 1980 movie, Tap. It features "old hoofers" Jimmy Slyde, Harold Nicholas, Steve Condos, Sammy Davis Jr., Sandman Simms, Bunny Briggs, and Arthur Duncan, schooling Gregory Hines. (The boy in the baseball cap, who doesn't tap in this scene is the actual Tap Dance Kid, Savion Glover.)

    Mr Bojangles.
    Mr Bojangles?

    Thursday, May 23, 2013

    Micah 6:8

    He has shown thee, o people, what is good and what the LORD requires of thee.

    Love this song.
    First learned it in Navs.
    Then when I went to HK with Teen Mania, the Newsboys did concerts during evening worship at our briefing and debriefing. I remember getting Phil's autograph (Phil. Micah 6:8) and singing this song with one of my teammates while in line for the next autograph.

    Good times.
    Good reminder.

    source:  Messianic Jewish Alliance of America FB page

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    Groove is in the heart

    This is my fifth year tapping with Vicki's Tap Pups. Since I was a kid I wanted to tap. I asked to take tap classes, not dance in general. But it didn't happen until I was an adult, and that's ok. (As it turns out, 80% of Vicki's tappers make their first tap sounds with her.)

    But this dude has been tapping since he was five and tapping professionally since he was ten. Then he got cancer and had his right leg amputated above the knee.

    And then he got right back on his taps.
    Full article, with video, in the Star-Ledger

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    Make a stranger's day!

    Watch "It's All About the Giving: Dan McComas at TEDxDePaulU" on YouTube

    When I grow up I want to be...

    Who are our role models? 

    We've just celebrated Mother's Day, lauding the strong women in our lives (biological moms, spiritual moms, moms by relationship). 

    It's time for a female president!  And yet we live in a world where we teach our little girls to be like the Disney princesses (even taking Merida from Brave and shoving her into a dress with some slink.  Really?) 

    One mom took the time for her daughter's 5th birthday and gave her a photo shoot as some women to really try to emulate in their boldness, pioneering spirit, and sense of wonder.  This child is Not Just a Girl; she (and you, and me!) can be whatever she wants to be.

    See her full blog post for more amazing photos.

    Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    Movie songs

    The 20 Best Songs Written For Movies | NextMovie

    What movie songs do you love?

    Some of my personal favorites (in no particular order) are:
    • The Rainbow Connection
    • Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head
    • Theme song from The Natural
    • Star Wars Theme
    • Indiana Jones Theme
    • most of the soundtrack of The Lion King
    • most of the soundtrack of The Graduate, although I couldn't make it through the movie

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    How great is our God!

    Landscapes: Volume Two from Dustin Farrell on Vimeo.

    Making nerds

    Ours is a world that often seems cynical, detached, and passionless. Ours is a world that needs more nerds. And we need more parents to pass along their nerdery to their kids. I can think of few things more life-giving than saying, “this is something I love and I want you to love it, too.” Maybe it’s music. Maybe it’s backpacking. Maybe it’s cheese.

    Doesn’t matter the subject. What matters is the passion.

    What kind of nerd are you?
    Excerpt from Parenting and Passions and Making Nerds of Your Children on A Deeper Story recently.

    It's a bit of an outgrowth from Wil Wheaton's wonderful, heartfelt, and heartstring-tugging off-the-cuff speech on Why it's awesome to be a nerd (speech on YouTube), which he also personally blogged about.

    source: As Seen on Tabletop

    I love GeekMom too, with its women bloggers of varied passionate interests.

    Monday, May 6, 2013

    Life hacks to make your life easier

    Referencing this article so I can find it again. So many good reuses for tp rolls, bread clips, etc. Ways to keep cords separated, DIY flashlights, etc.

    Sunday, May 5, 2013


    Big Frog and I had some time to prowl around Mechanicsburg today and went by Gaude1, our first apartment. Wow does it ever look great!

    1 Gaude is short for Gaudeamus Igitur, our name for our first apartment. It's Latin for "Therefore, let us rejoice" and is also the name of a graduation hymn. And yes, we love 1) The Student Prince, 2) Mario Lanza, and 3) Dorothy L Sayers' Gaudy Night.

    We're going with the assumption that our former upstairs neighbor followed through on his resolve to buy the duplex from our former landlord (who was a schlub, useless and laissez-faire) and really fix it up visually.

    We had the front entrance to the left side as you face the duplex. Downstairs we had a straight string of rooms: our great room2, a tiny bathroom, a blank expanse of wall which was the back of our upstairs neighbors' doorway and stairs, an office3 and the kitchen4. In one corner of the greatroom was a wooden staircase with four 90-degree left turns and, at the top, one 90-degree right turn into our enormous bedroom, which was the only painted-and-stenciled room in the apartment: pink with red roses. It was a good thing we were young and in love. Also the rental price was extraordinarily low for a huge space. Closets would have been nice, though.

    2 Loved that greatroom. Probably 20'x20', a vaulted ceiling that made our 7.5" fake tree look pint-sized, and a nonworking gas fireplace that we filled with pillar candles. We put in 15' worth of sectional sofa and a dining room table to bring the scale to something approaching normal.
    3 Or instead of an office, a second bedroom. Big Frog had a roommate the first summer he was there; that worked out really well, actually.
    4 And what a kitchen it was! Yellow with dark brown trim. An ugly, super shiny corrugated metal backsplash behind the stove that ran clear up to the ceiling. An island which was topped with two back-to-back pieces of laminate countertop with molding, which created an enormous bump in the middle.

    So needless to say, it needed a lot of work to take it from workable5 to actually looking good! In our walk-by we were only on the outside looking at the cosmetic changes, but there's a lot to be said for curb appeal. For example, I don't remember the detailing on the roofline even being there, but it's so beautiful! I'm going to assume that either 1) it wasn't there before or 2) it was so obscured by the slowly-chipping paint that I never saw it.

    5 Pretty low standards on that "workable". We were two college kids who were staying a year and did nothing for the place.

    The exterior of the place was wood carved to make it look like enormous blocks of stone. The PNC Bank at the market square is authentically built of stone and is dated 1926.

    source: Google Street View

    Well, Gaude was the looks-like-it version in wood. But over time, the paint peeled and chipped away. When we moved there in 2000, it still looked like stone unless you looked closely. By the time Google Maps got around to photographing it in 2009, it looked exactly like what it was: horribly weather-beaten wood.

    source: Google Street View

    We were surprised at what a simple application of paint did for the visual!

    Kudos to you, upstairs neighbor! Best wishes with Gaude.

    Saturday, May 4, 2013

    What show would you like to do?

    If you had the skill, the time, the inclination, the resources, and the venue... in short, if all the stars aligned, what show would you like to act in, in what role (male or female; remember, all the stars are aligned)? Is it a different show from what you would direct if everything lined up?

    When terping, the choices you can make are different. For example, even though we've asked and been turned down by CVHS, Elton John's Aida would be amazing! With three terps, my male co-terp could be Adam Pascal (Radames), I could be Heather Headley (Aida), and my female co-terp could be Sherie Rene Scott (Amneris). Easy. So much fun! And Elton! Unfortunately for us, CVHS intentionally chooses shows with a massive cast and lots of leads and named characters.

    My female co-terp and I also had a long FB chat on Sweeney Todd. Which, in a post-Tim-Burton-version world, when she called Mrs Lovitt right off the bat, she was really calling dibs on Helena Bonham Carter. Because, after all, who wouldn't love to sing Bellatrix? Shepherd's pie peppered with actual shepherd, am I right? But if she's Helena Bonham Carter, and the default assumption is that of course our male co-terp would get Johnny Depp, I *still* win, big time! Because if I get all the bit parts, that means I get Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, and Sasha Baron Cohen! Alan Rickman, y'all! Win upon win upon win. Always.

    And with my particular penchant for tech theater, here's a special feature from the movie about making blood for film1 2  

    1 And just how crazy-much you need for effects, compared to the mere pints an actual human has flowing at a given moment.
    2 If you're squeamish about blood, please realize that movie blood is primarily high-fructose corn syrup.

    At Toby's, the stage is in the round, which is amazing for closeness to the stage, as the worst seat in the house is a whopping 30' from the stage, and those in the front need to be cautioned to keep their toes tucked in lest they become part of the action. But it makes eliminating corpses interesting. What they did was create a platform filling half the floor at the center of the stage. When Pierelli died, his actor, the amazing Larry Munsey, tumbled thru a trapdoor and spent the balance of Act 1 inside the platform, on a camping mattress, with his ipod. As for the victims during "God, That's Good", there are four aisles for the stage. With Sweeney's barber chair installed in the middle of the platform, a body sling was ziplined from the balcony above one aisle down to Sweeney's chair, where he strapped in a victim and, with a tip of the chair, sent him whizzing down and out the opposite aisle. It was a wonder of tech theater. And kind of creepy. But that's Grand Guignol for you.

    But my male co-terp doesn't want to do Sweeney Todd. He's not a Sondheim fan. And I can see how being Johnny Depp would have less appeal than being Alan Rickman3. Instead, his preference is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat4, in which he actually played5 Joseph in a local-to-him production. Or he would like Jekyll and Hyde, which I actually have not yet seen.

    3 Alan Rickman!
    4Joseph is Big Frog's preference, too. Big Frog would be Reuben, who sings the Country song "One More Angel in Heaven".
    5 Acted, not terped.

    Once Upon a Mattress might be fun too. Or Guys and Dolls. Or Lion King6. Or Billy Elliot... and now we're back on an Elton kick7, there's always Aida...

    6 Costuming would be a bigger challenge there than terping, although CVHS has a custom couturier who makes up their costumes.
    7 Or were we never off one?

    May the 4th

    Happy Star Wars Day!


    And my favorite Whose Line is it Anyway? clip, Star Wars: Number of Words.1

    1 Why can't I embed from YouTube via tablet?? I know how to do it via desktop. YouTube just provides the link there. But in the app, oh no.

    EDIT: Embed accomplished by borrowing Earl's laptop. Still can't figure it out on the tablet. Suggestions welcome.

    Additional images as the day progresses:

    Liturgy runs deep.

    source: Lutherans Online FB page, although I'm not Lutheran.

    Here, too, is Drew McWeeny's Film Nerd 2.0: Star Wars journey introducing his two kids, aged 6&3, to the films. It was my introduction also to the idea of watching films in the sequence 4-5-(flashback to)1-2-3-(et voila, triumphant finale)6, which I definitely prefer to the sequence we got with the releases of old trilogy-new trilogy.

    Who loves Legos? And would like their creations to be in a movie?

    Drew McWeeney, of Motion/Captured on HitFix, reports that there's a Lego movie in the works in which a minifig is the main character. It will be like Roger Rabbit in that all licensed Lego worlds will interact, much like the hodgepodge of sets strewn across any family's living room. McWeeney remarks, "The movie is interesting if only because of how many different intellectual properties they're playing with under one umbrella." Co-director Phil Lord describes it as, "[T]he only movie where Batman, Gandalf, and Dumbledore can all hang out with Morgan Freeman.""

    The ReBrick contest is a chance for you to design something in Lego, shoot video of it, and then share that with the community via the official Lego site. The best video will actually end up in the movie.

    You have until May 6, this Monday, to get your entry in. If I knew about it sooner I would have passed it along sooner. The movie itself will launch in February 2014. Even if you don't have time to make up your own stop-action movie, at least watch some of the amazingly creative entries already on the ReBrick website.

    PS Of all things, I'm amused that minifigs can't high-five.

    Heroes in their own words - on beyond wordclouds


    The Princess Bride


    O Brother Where Art Thou

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

    British Therapy

    Watching Love Actually b/c right now I'm feeling like Emma Thompson: "The trouble with being the Prime Minister's sister is, it does put your life into rather harsh perspective. What did my brother do today? He stood up and fought for his country. And what did I do? I made a papier maché lobster head."

    One of my high school classmates, the inimitable Risa Binder, was just nominated for a Grammy. An actual Grammy. Resultingly she's been appropriately meme-d.

    And here's official video from Risa's Youtube channel of the song, "Just Like That", on General Hospital last July.

    Umm... aside from Risa and Lisa being just one letter different, my actual initials until I got married were EMY. Just sayin'.

    I am absolutely delighted for her and at the same time I am glad that today I accomplished a load of wash and a WalMart run while watching the kidlets.

    Also, watching Bill Nighy swear in British never gets old.

    PS Am I the only one who, every time Britain's Got Talent comes on, now says in their own head, "Ant or Dec"?