Megan, Theater and the Special Needs Boy

halloween-2008-007My 7th grader Megan has been practicing all week on her monologue for a UIL theater competition here in Katy. She’s really into it, and frankly she may have the personality for it. Today was the competition and she was nervous (remember your first public speaking event in middle school – yeeeesh). Up at 6 am, school by 7:15 am, first competition at 8:30am.

That’s when it happened.

Megan was the last of 7 girls that were giving monologues in front of a “17 year old big boy” from theater class. The first girls speech ended, that’s when “big boy” says, “you know, all you did was just talk. Better luck next year.” I was a little annoyed, but I don’t really know how these things go. The girl looked terrified.

Girl number two goes next and her performance is received from “big boy” with praise and admiration. I’m still not sure what to think.

Girl number three goes and at the end of her monologue “big boy” says, “well I didn’t really like it. You said ‘like’ too many times (part of the act BTW) and it would have been better if the girl who just went before you had done the performance. Better luck next year.” Now this girl cries sort of silently. But cries. I’m not happy. Courtney, my wife, is giving me looks that say – can this be right?

Oh no, girl number four goes. And after “big boy” tells her that her performance was “boring” and “he’s not into it, that it was choppy” she cries. Wow… So 4 girls, two crying. Big boy continues on. At this point I can see veins in Courtney’s neck pulsing.

Pan to Megan, my 7th grader, and she slumps more in her seat with each monologue. Terror has turned her white.

Another girl goes and and “big boy” tells her, “I didn’t think you were going to make it work. It started out really bad, the beginning and middle weren’t interesting, but got better.” Now all of the girls are emotional wrecks.

Megan’s turn. She is nervous. She does her performance, which usually is better, but makes it through pretty good. I’m on the edge of my seat. BIG BOY SAYS: “I’m just not feeling it. Your story isn’t interesting. I didn’t like it. Maybe you’ll do better next year.”

Megan runs out in tears. Explosive tears. Dreams smashed.

Courtney follows her. Her whole body, face, arms, etc. are RED.

Other moms follow. People meet the crowd of emotions in the hallway. Teachers say, “The judges aren’t even supposed to talk. Reviews are forbidden. Only on paper given later, etc.”

My main goal is to save “big boy’s life” and not end up on the ten o’clock news. Court is ready to “get him”. Have you ever seen a mother wolf protecting her cubs? We are in “cub mode” here. Luckily we get the crowd of emotional parents to the “teachers” and report the abuse. The teachers are really upset. What a debacle.

The school is actually swift in taking care of the problem. They pass all girls to the next round, reprimand “big boy” and make in-person apologize to all girls.

Time for the good stuff.

Turns out the school was short on judges this morning. Two of the three for this category didn’t show. So, they grabbed kids from the “theater department” to judge. “Big boy” was a special needs kid in theater that had volunteered to carry concessions in and setup the concession stand. He was “coraled” into judging the room by someone that had no idea he was “special needs”.

So a “special needs” big boy was in charge of judging a room of emotional 7th grade girls. Wow. You can’t invent shit like this.

I feel bad for everyone. Poor Megan. Poor Big Boy. Poor school.


November 8, 2008 at 10:08 pm 10 comments

Tribute to the Long House at Singing Sand’s West, Crystal Beach Texas

When I was a kid my parents had always wanted a beach house… it only took them around 30 or so years to make that dream possible. I remember being a kid and having my folks take us to Galveston to stay in various hotels… It was part of the best things I remember about growing up.

They choose putting their kids through college as a priority… and for that I am thankful. But their dream would have to wait until we were grown.

About 4 years ago they bought the view you see below. It was a great little house in Singing Sands West on Bolivar Peninsula. True it is a community fitting of a Jimmy Buffet song… but I like Jimmy buffet.

Here is the house itself. It wasn’t front row, but it was only about 900 feet to a very private Texas beach. Unlike many spots in Crystal Beach it was not easy to get to by car, so it was left alone by much of the drive on traffic. (Only holidays would bring enough traffic to have cars on the Singing Sands West section of beach)

Just like my childhood, the kids you see below got to make the beach part of their lives. My dad lived at the beach house part time, so unlike many of the homes that got very minimal use, ours was always pretty busy. We had just learned where to get a dozen live blue crabs for $7 at Joe’s in bolivar… things were pretty swell.

Unlike many people that own “vacation homes”, my parents were not lawyers, dentists, retired oil field workers, etc. They were hard working Americans (Fed Ex courier and Flight Attendant) that made sacrifices (When Dad was alone he would only air condition one room of the house to be able to afford the electric bill accumulated by the me and my kids when we came to visit). They organized their life so they could benefit from the sort of “heaven” only those of us that worship the Texas Gulf Coast know.

Stop and hang your feet in the waves… pop a top… see if you can relate.

I am sure it will be back one day, but we don’t know when. Below you can see a photo of the neighborhood as it is today. My parents house would be in the vicinity of the houses with the “red roofs” but it is gone. Wiped clean.

If you would like to explore the devastation yourself here are a couple of links that will let you see neghborhoods and photos in crystal beach: you Jake and Abby)

It’s hard to believe that the picture below is the same neighborhood I know…. An atom bomb may have been nicer. I pasted in two more photos at the bottom so you can see and match up a few of the houses. To me it is unreal.

Now compare that picture (you can enlarge it) with the photos from below…. Wow.

I guess what I wanted to communicate mostly is that property was lost, but it is more than that.

Dreams were lost (or postponed).

Be gentle and caring to those that may have lost their dream for a little while. Know that they may have also lost neighbors… That they may also have lost belongings that are worth more than money… Know that they worked hard to have this opportunity (and are thankful that they got it)… And, that in no way would they have ever thought they could be “wiped completely off the map”.

This is what a dream looks like:

September 16, 2008 at 8:19 pm 32 comments

Step by Step Inking from Nick Edwards

I really liked this post on Drawn that linked to a step by step inking example from illustrator Nick Edwards. It shows the process form the initial pencil sketch to the photoshop coloring stage.

Nick Edwards

Nick Edwards

I have enormous respect for inkers as I spent my early days as an animator at Heart of Texas Productions in Austin, inking drawings for Space Jam. I wanted to give up. I am not a really neat person, and the process is tedious… not to mention the fact that animators personalties’ are incredibly distracting.

I had always wanted to reach the talent level of John K., but never felt that my drawings had as much energy. here is an example of K’s most recent work (apparently he is pitching a distorted version of famous warner borthers characters – I would love to see that):

August 8, 2008 at 8:15 pm 2 comments

Hook Up to Houston Children’s Museum

Houston Children’s Museum

I love the new Houston Children’s Museum Web Site!!!! Full disclosure, our team at Schipul made the site – but that doesn’t change the fact that I love it!

It is spring break next week and I would have never known that the museum had such an amazingly fun lineup for kids, if it weren’t for the new site. The spring break events are listed on the home page, and I would personally love to go see “The Beetles“. I am hoping I can talk my folks into taking the kids to that event, as they will be in town.

Also, I would like to invite all of you to stay plugged into the Children’s Museum in two ways:

  1. Through RSS updates that will let you know when they announce new things
  2. The Facebook fan page that will also keep you in the loop with their marketing team

Plug in if you have kids, and get in touch with events that go beyond the normal tour of exhibits.

March 14, 2008 at 4:15 pm 2 comments

Oh Mandy, The Spinto Band

One of the best bands I saw in Austin this last week was “The Spinto Band“. I downloaded their last CD, and immediately fell in love with the song “Oh Mandy”, and appararently I am not the only one, as views of the video for “Oh Mandy” on YouTube are huge:

It really makes me wonder how the internet is treating new bands. Basically, here is someone I have never heard of that has 448,473 views on their video and lots of link love (do a Google search for “spinto”). I wonder how hard it is to monetize their music, and how “deals with labels” are different than the old days.

Spinto’s label is Bar None, and bar none includes youtube videos, myspace links, etc. of artist’s content. Hmmmm? I wonder if labels are doing search and social media placement as part of marketing for artists?
Also, who produced the video for “Oh Mandy”? It is pretty fun. Nice stats on viewership too.

March 13, 2008 at 5:52 pm 3 comments

Collective Intelligence and Meetings

My SXSW experience left me feeling that meetings and the communication between the speakers and the audience is radically different than it was 2 years ago. Both for good and bad.

It wasn’t so much the Zuckerberg incident that was the big news at SXSW to me – it was the audience. The audience was the big development. In a comment left on allfacebook about the Zuckerberg interview Michael Lambie says, “this interview almost took down twitter today.”

At SXSW the meeting rooms were setup with a Meebo chat, and also the vast majority of the audience live twittered the speech. Two years ago, this speech would have just been bad and boring. Today it is news. Everyone that could get through on the internet connection was able to discuss in realtime behind the scenes their thoughts and feelings.

The crowd was able to organize during the interview and make real time discoveries. They found:

  1. They are not alone
  2. They can take action
  3. They could voice themselves

The result was organized and realtime feedback.

This feedback takes a great deal of control from the speakers – who have enjoyed isolation from the audience. Speakers are now at the mercy of the crowd. If a speaker is not serving, the audience can organize around them. What will happen in politics, movies, church, business, as this type of behind the scenes communication reaches a more critical mass?

The next morning I went to a panel where the audience was organizing questions for the speaker while she spoke. It showed that some others in the audience wanted to know the same answers and provided much deeper questions. In this case it was a good thing.

But what will happen when people can revolt in realtime against things they feel are unpopular. I can imagine scenarios in high school that will leave teachers exasperated. Power to the audience.

Only time will tell. I will twitter it in real time.

March 12, 2008 at 10:43 pm 1 comment

How to Keep SXSW Going for the Rest of the Year

I just tried to get into the Mark Cuban panel… and the room was overbooked. I couldn’t get in. Personally I am blaming Eloy. How many strikes is that?

So I hopped into a room and am listening how to “Rock” SXSW for the rest of the year. The panel started out with a super energetic dude, Kevin Smokeler that threw candy at the crowd, sang to final countdown, and a troop of panelists that ran through the room like a basketball team….Real funny.

Thomas says about his first SXSW experience, “The year was 2003, we were going to be out of Iraq in two weeks.” They

What will you do when you get home?

  1. Organize your business cards, email people you want to keep in touch with, if you don’t do that soon it won’t get done.
  2. Reflect on what the themes are. The unspoken lessons. Making heads or tails of themes.
  3. Upload photos, blog, and do the things you didn’t have time for.
  4. Start an email to everyone you wanted to touch base with, on the way home

What is the first real day back at work like?

  1. Just get back to focused on business, don’t do anything related to SXSW.
  2. Reach out to other people in the company and pass knowledge and make connections for other business needs

How do you see your life being altered from SXSW?

  1. Integrate items you have learned into current practice. Many folks come to SXSW with an agenda that they have some solution for
  2. Make connections with folks that need the information from SXSW
  3. Have a party and make friendships real
  4. Next year be more engaged with the experience. Discusses the “Fray” cafe where folks have “Open Mike Night” where someone gets up and tells a story. Any story.
  5. No idea is too crazy. Smokler says, “I want us to have music. I want us to come in like professional wrestlers.”

What dilemmas do you have from attending SXSW? How can we take advantage of collective brain power and sove problems presented at SXSW?

  1. I live in a small town, and I feel like I am the only geek in the world. Lady wants great ideas on how to feel connected to the brains at SXSW when back in a remote area?  A) Join online communities. Skype folks into meetings. Use IRC for getting people that can’t make a meeting involved. Skype is the big take away.
  2. Day job is with MSN, but can’t shake up the big organization. How can you take this wild environment into a big company? Look for champions in your organization to interject change.
  3. How do you tell others what the conference was like? What happens here stays here. (There is enough content online that you can show people what it was like) It won’t replace the people experience.

March 11, 2008 at 5:17 pm 1 comment

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