Archive for February 2008

The Producer……of a wierd little idea

February 28, 2008

Tomorrow, February 28, 2008, I shall officially become a television producer. Tomorrow we begin taping the inserts that will become the theme song and classroom field trip for ‘Dipsy Doodle’s Flower Pot Shop.’ It has been a long, exhilarating, creative and somewhat frustrating process that began as a weird little idea last September.

Well, maybe the weird little idea actually began last fall when I was kicked out of my Kindergarten position and dragged kicking and screaming into the Tech Ed position. I begged the district’s Tech Trainer to spend a morning with me teaching me how the school’s computer lab worked. We spent a delightful few hours checking things out, teaching me the ropes and talking about his own new position as the cable station director. He was interested in producing new programming with a parent education focus. I told them they needed to get something up for preschoolers and their parents to watch. I mulled a few things over and then submitted my ‘weird little idea’ to him. I waited and waited and waited and then basically forgot about it. We ran into one another at a district meeting in December and he told me that they were very interested in doing it. I met with two ‘official’ producers a few days later…just before Christmas vacation. I advocated a program idea that would entertain preschoolers and model for parents basic literacy concepts. The program encompasses the very best of shows I watched when I was a child. Milky the Clown, Soupy Sales and Captain Kangaroo were the heros of my little world. It delights me to think that their tricks shall be carried on through my own weird little idea.

Over the past few months I have been actively seeking copyright permission from authors whose works will be the center of our show. I have conscripted teacher friends to be on camera readers, write a theme song and design the ‘set’ we will use. I have met with a retired friend who clowns for a hobby and absorbed suggestions for my own clown character. I ‘auditioned’ a recommended high school student to portray the host of our show. She is delirious with excitement. I scoured clown supply web sites for glasses and gloves and paints and wigs. The pattern, material and accessories for a costume are hanging from my bedroom door knob in a Wal-Mart bag….this weekend’s project. I have conscripted permission from parents for their children to appear on camera. I have written one script and three more are burbling in my head waiting for a spare minute so they can be transferred to my computer. And tomorrow we start filming.

So it’s just a little preschool show and I am doing it for free. This producing stuff is kind of cool…..but I am seriously channeling the spirits of Milky, Soupy, Captain K, Jim Henson and and Mr. Rogers. Weird little ideas can sometimes kick start a change. I am too old to start a new career but this is the right size project for me. Gotta figure out how to get paid for it though. Then it would be a perfect weird little idea. Heh.

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Quadruple Whammy

February 22, 2008


Oh, I am SO not ready for this. He turned fourteen today and I was gently reminded that it’s only eight more months until he is eligible to take driver’s education. I was making chocolate chip pancakes at the time and trying to decide which plastic plate should be his – the Ronald McDonald soccer player or the Cat in the Hat mini-plate? Swallowed a huge lump in my throat and chose the Cat in the Hat. After breakfast and before the mad dash to the car for a ride to school, I proof read the rough draft of an English paper that was due today. He’d chosen the common theme of kids growing up too fast from the books ‘Across Five Aprils’ and ‘Soldier’s Heart.’ He wrote, “Kids want to be adults because they get to do more things and then they forget about following their own dreams.” Aww.

Baked a cake today. Chocolate with chocolate frosting and color flaming candles – per his request. Met them at my school and worked on homework in the library before a meeting I needed to attend. I was going over Science vocabulary with his sister when he nonchalantly handed me a large yellow envelope. High School registration forms. HIGH SCHOOL! It’s looming just slightly over the horizon. I swallowed the lump in my throat and looked through the catalog as he went on excitedly about which electives he was thinking about taking….and watched him fill out the sports interest form with round, still childish script. Sigh.

We went out to dinner at a restaurant he’d chosen. His sister had an announcement and there was a scuffle of feet under the table. She glanced at him in consternation and then silently sat back in her seat. It took a few wiggles and jabs but we were finally told that he’d asked a girl to dance at the school Valentine celebration last week. The girl had told his sister about it yesterday. A very proud and giggly girl told her about in the hall between classes. She even knows her name…..which I told her to keep a secret. She is a sister after all and I know he’ll tell me some day soon. Instant flashback. Black slacks, slate gray shirt AND….behold all wonders….a silver TIE! I would have been giggling too. He was one handsome dude that night.

Then it hit me. Fourteen? Driver’s Ed? High School? Girls?

Quadruple whammy.

I am SO not ready for this. Sigh.

WHAT was I thinking????

February 14, 2008

A bazillion projects. ‘Tom Sawyer’ rehearsals three nights this week. Son is off to a Valentine’s dance tomorrow and he is wearing a TIE! The cable show is plodding along. The Writers’ Strike is OVER. Snow and sniffles…. Two days off school next week so it’s a long weekend. One would think that it’s a perfect time to cozy up to the remote and a box of popcorn for the weekend. But, nnnoooOOOOooooo. I am headed to Chicago with seventeen 12 year olds and fourteen of their Moms. Money being spent right and left. FOUR days without my computer….my internet buddies…..E-MAIL????? WHAT was I thinking??

SNOW Days….and Erik Smith

February 1, 2008

Many years ago when we were applying for American citizenship for our then 2 and a half year old son, I sent letters to famous people requesting a note…something that would explain to my little guy about the importance of being an American. I probably sent out 20-25 requests….some of them pretty far fetched….like Oprah and Steven Spielberg. I received four replies. An autographed photo of Jimmy Carter. A very nice response from actor Jimmy Stewart’s secretary explaining that he was ill but would have definitely liked to respond. (He died a short time later.) A very nice letter and religious pamphlets from television minister, Robert Schuller. But the wonderful letter and autographed picture that drew the most profound reaction from my son – even then – came from Erik Smith, a local television newscaster. Why?

Erik Smith was probably the one celebrity who brought the most joy into our lives. He was the announcer of the area’s ‘Snow Day’ report. Those delightful days were the ones we didn’t have to stuff ourselves in to snow suits and hurry off to daycare and school. The days when we could stay in our jammies all day and make cookies. The days when we would construct snow forts and then enjoy them while sipping on steaming cups of hot cocoa. Sometimes – if there was a wind – we would drag in a tub full of snow to play with in the bath tub or on the kitchen floor. My husband was horrified the first time we did that. Heh. What’s a little melted snow? It mops up. Fun days. Surprise days.

When I was a kid we would gather around a radio to listen to the school closing list. When it came we would suddenly be wide awake and thrilled to death. We could hardly wait to get outside in the snow. My mom would make us wait until at least day light. We never worried about frozen pipes or empty refrigerators. All we cared about was building snow sculptures and throwing snowballs. Rolling in it. Sopping wet mittens. Frozen noses and cheeks. As I got older it was the snowmobile that provided the fun…and the task of going to the neighborhood market for needed groceries. Fun days. Surprise days.

I still enjoy them….and I am the Mom. A Teacher Mom. This morning I was up at four thirty am watching out my window. The television was on and already reporting the massive snowstorm that was edging toward us. At 5:10 am they finally listed my school district on the lengthening list of school closings. I was instantly wide awake. Old habits die hard.

My son is now two weeks away from turning 14. He just stumbled out of the bedroom and stood in front of the local news…still hosted by Erik Smith. He read our school district’s name on the lengthening list of school closings running across the screen, smiled and stumbled back to bed. Erik Smith can still bring a smile to my guy’s face. My angsty adolescent guy. Heh. Lucky man.