Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway

My daughters outside of the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in Manhattan.

Looking for a show to see? Are you a Roald Dahl fan? Both?

“Unwrap a world of pure imagination.”

My youngest daughter loves Broadway shows, so what better way to celebrate her birthday than to surprise her with tickets to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The New Musical in Manhattan?  We appreciate Roald Dahl’s dark humor and twisted characters (We loved “Matilda the Musical.”), not to mention that Willy Wonka is played by Christian Borle who was excellent as Shakespeare in “Something Rotten.”

One of my favorite childhood movies was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I saw the newer version, and didn’t mind Johnny Depp playing a deeply disturbed Willy Wonka, but Gene Wilder’s Wonka stuck in my psyche.

The musical is wonderful! The set design is clever, interesting, colorful and illusional. The larger than life characters are modern, and each has his/her own “voice.” The humor is both timeless and relevant to the times, and, of course, of course, the story is evergreen. The messages that imagination is valuable, dream big, and work for your passion makes me–sniff-a little weepy.

Oh and, hon, the Oompa Loompas are hysterical!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The New Musical

I thought most people knew the story, but at the Broadway show the woman sitting behind us seemed genuinely surprised when Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregard, Mike Teavee, and Augustus Gloop met their sweet rewards, and when Charlie Bucket was the last child standing. The show’s website describes the story like this:

Willy Wonka, world famous inventor of the Everlasting Gobstopper, has just made an astonishing announcement. His marvelous—and mysterious—factory is opening its gates…to a lucky few. That includes young Charlie Bucket, whose life definitely needs sweetening. He and four other golden ticket winners will embark on a mesmerizing, life-changing journey through Wonka’s wondrous world. Get ready for chocolate waterfalls, exquisitely nutty squirrels and the great glass elevator, all to be revealed by Wonka’s army of curious Oompa-Loompas.

Birthday girl.

Have you seen a good show lately? I’m always interested in what else is on stage.

 

 

Jekyll and Hyde Doggie

Lucy hypnotizes us with her “people eyes.”

Don’y let Lucy’s cutie cuteness fool you.

I am an accessory to aggravated assault and I blame Lucy!

My former sweet, little angel has never shown an interest in birds. Chipmunks? Yes. Squirrels? Definitely. Groundhogs? Think fatality. In the animal kingdom-also-known-as-my-backyard, she saves growling and running around the yard 30 mph for small, skittish mammals. Birds are barely worth a low huff, wet nose, or tail twitch.

Our vet thinks Lucy is a part Border Collie, part Black-Lab (aka. Labracollie), which explains why she loves to retrieve tennis balls and herd young children. When Lucy herds, she uses a “soft mouth” and wet nose, bonking and nipping as if to say, “Hey, you sheep, you cows, cluster!”

When Lucy’s outside, she surveys the meadow (umm, yard) from the porch, alerting us to cars and passersby. I’ve read that Border Collies hypnotize herds with their intense, brown eyes, and I believe it. Lucy stares at us intensely with her “people eyes,” hypnotizing us with her inner thoughts. (“Give me meat.” or “Play ball with me.”)

A few days ago, we spotted a Blue Jay fledgling on our driveway. It was all fuzzy down and short feathers. I was fascinated. (Hon, do you know me at all?) I squatted down. It stared at me. I inched closer. It squeaked. I came a little closer. It hop hop hopped down the driveway. Adorable! Lucy was indifferent. Since birds were never a cause for maniacal barking or hypnotism, how was I to know she was secretly Jekyll and Hyde?

The next day, Lucy and I spotted the fledgling on the sidewalk. “There you are,” I said. “Aren’t you cute?” I said. “We won’t hurt you,” I said. Lucy lowered her head as if to sniff the bird, so I let her get a bit closer. All of a sudden, she lunged and grabbed the bird!

After yanking Lucy’s collar while screaming, “Bad dog!”, I picked up the baby bird* who wasn’t bitten or bleeding but limp-ish. Oh no! Did Lucy break its neck or pick it up with a “soft mouth?” Was the bird was just shaken up, stunned and going to come-to later? I searched the internet to find out if birds play dead, and found that some people witnessed this phenomenon, but without confirmation by an expert, it seemed like a wish.

When I returned to the scene of the crime later that day, the baby bird was gone. Did a cat find it? Or a fox? Or–maybe, just maybe–as soon as we left, it perked its little head up and hopped away?

One can only hope.

Adorable Baby Jay.

* It’s a myth that if you touch a baby bird, the mommy won’t take care of it anymore. Click here to read more.

Source: Live Science

I’d love to hear if your “sweet little angels” are harboring killer instincts.

Top Ten April Fool’s Pranks, Part 2

Welcome to Top Ten April Fool’s Day Pranks, Part 2.

I’d love to hear if you have a favorite.

I must add a retraction to yesterday’s post.

Correction: Hubby pranks our kids. Example: Our youngest daughter scheduled an interview with the owner of a restaurant for a school project. Hubby told her a pipe burst at the restaurant and it would be closed for the month. “Oh no!” said our daughter. “April Fool’s!”said Hubby.

6) Subway Car Surfaces, 2001

Residents of Copenhagen who visited the square in front of the town hall were greeted by a strange sight. One of the subway cars from the city’s new subway, which was under construction, appeared to have burst up through the pavement. The subway car actually was a retired vehicle from the Stockholm subway. It had been cut at an angle and loose bricks were placed around it, to give the illusion that it had crashed up from below.

The stunt was sponsored by Gevalia Coffee, whose advertisements had an ongoing theme of vehicles popping up in strange locations, with the tagline “Be ready for unexpected guests.”

Real crash or subway car cut at an angle?


7) $99 Flights to Mars, 2009

Vacation at a real hot spot.

Internet-based travel site Expedia.com announced it was offering flights to Mars for only $99, which it calculated to be a savings of $3 trillion for travelers. “In this economy, you can’t afford NOT to go!” it declared.


8Kids Fly Free, 2004

Fly free?

Visitors to the website of discount airline RyanAir were greeted by the news that as a special April Fool’s Day offer kids would be allowed to ride free. A few seconds later the announcement added the second part of the offer: “For as long as they can hold on.”


9) King’s College Choir Uses Helium, 2014

The renowned King’s College Choir is not known for farce. This made it noteworthy when they released a video announcing that complex regulations had made it impractical to continue featuring young boys in the choir, and that they had been forced to find other ways to replicate the high pitch of the boys’ preadolescent voices. Because the older choral scholars had vetoed the “surgical solution,” the choir leaders had finally adopted a suggestion made by a colleague in the Chemistry Department — use helium. The video, demonstrating the use of helium during a performance, generated over 2 million views on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukDAfF0-8q8


10) Eau de Chlôrine, a perfume that makes you smell like a swimming pool, 2017

USA Swimming just put out this ad: Eau de Chlôrine is an exhilarating race of the senses that never lets up. It starts off strong, fast and soggy. A cannonball that bursts with a lasting and immense feeling of amusement. Buoyed by the passions of a life spent floating through love, happiness and chlorinated water. Eau de Chlôrine is a powerful, heady scent that leaves an impression — both in and out of the pool.

The tag line: With spring upon us, now is the time to swim in our scent.

Related Post: Top Ten April Fool’s Pranks, Part 1

Sources: Hoaxes.org, Washingtonpost.com, Youtube.com, theverge.com

 

Top 10 April Fool’s Pranks, Part 1

Hon, pulling pranks on April Fool’s Day may not be a tradition in my house, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good one. After scouring lists of news reports, advertisements, and videos, I came up with a list of my favorite…

Top Ten April Fool’s Pranks

1) The Tasmanian Mock Walrus, 1984

In 1984, The Orlando Sentinel ran a story about a creature known as the Tasmanian Mock Walrus (or TMW for short) that it said made a perfect pet. The creature was only four inches long, resembled a walrus, purred like a cat, and had the temperament of a hamster. What made it such an ideal pet was that it never had to be bathed, used a litter box, and ate cockroaches. In fact, a single TMW could entirely rid a house of its cockroach problem.

Reportedly, some TMWs had been smuggled in from Tasmania, and there were efforts being made to breed them, but the local pest-control industry, sensing that the TMW posed a threat to its business, was pressuring the government not to allow them in the country. An accompanying photo showed protestors picketing outside the offices of the Orlando city government to call attention to the plight of the TMW. Dozens of people called the paper trying to find out where they could obtain their own TMW.

Skeptics noted that the photo of a TMW accompanying the article showed a creature that looked suspiciously like a mole rat.

Tasmanian Mock Walrus or Mole Rat?


2) UFO Lands Near London, 1989

On March 31, 1989, thousands of motorists driving on the highway outside London looked up in the air to see a glowing flying saucer descending on their city. Many of them pulled to the side of the road to watch the bizarre craft float through the air. The saucer finally landed in a field on the outskirts of London where local residents immediately called the police to warn them of an alien invasion. Soon the police arrived on the scene, and one brave officer approached the craft with his truncheon extended before him. When a door in the craft popped open, and a small, silver-suited figure emerged, the policeman ran in the opposite direction.

The saucer turned out to be a hot-air balloon that had been specially built to look like a UFO by Richard Branson, the 36-year-old chairman of Virgin Records. The stunt combined his passion for ballooning with his love of pranks. His plan was to land the craft in London’s Hyde Park on April 1. Unfortunately, the wind blew him off course, and he was forced to land a day early in the wrong location.

UFO or hot air balloon?


3) The Taco Liberty Bell

On April 1, 1996, a full page ad appeared in six major American newspapers (The Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, and USA Today) announcing that the fast food chain Taco Bell had purchased the Liberty Bell. The full text of the ad read:

Taco Bell Buys The Liberty Bell
In an effort to help the national debt, Taco Bell is pleased to announce that we have agreed to purchase the Liberty Bell, one of our country’s most historic treasures. It will now be called the “Taco Liberty Bell” and will still be accessible to the American public for viewing. While some may find this controversial, we hope our move will prompt other corporations to take similar action to do their part to reduce the country’s debt.

Response
Taco Bell’s announcement generated an enormous response. Thousands of worried citizens called both Taco Bell’s headquarters and the National Park Service in Philadelphia to find out if the Bell had really been sold. Elaine Sevy, a Park Service spokeswoman, was quoted as saying, “We were shocked. We had no idea this was happening. We have just been getting hammered with phone calls from the public.”

The Philadelphia branch of the National Park Service arranged a midmorning news conference to assure the public that the Bell had not been sold. “The Liberty Bell is safe. It’s not for sale,” a spokeswoman announced.

In fact, the Bell could not have been sold by the federal government, as the ad implied, because the federal government did not own the Bell. It was the property of the City of Philadelphia.

At noon on April 1st, Taco Bell issued a second press release in which they confessed to the hoax, describing it as “The Best Joke of the Day.” The company also announced that it would donate $50,000 for the upkeep of the Liberty Bell.

Even the White House got in on the joke that same day when press secretary Mike McCurry told reporters that, as part of its ongoing privatization efforts “We’ll be doing a series of these. Ford Motor Co. is joining today in an effort to refurbish the Lincoln Memorial. It will be the Lincoln Mercury Memorial.”

The Liberty Bell or the Taco Liberty Bell?


4) Flying Penguins, 2008

The BBC announced that camera crews filming near the Antarctic for its natural history series Miracles of Evolution had captured footage of Adélie penguins taking to the air. It even offered a video clip of these flying penguins, which became one of the most viewed videos on the internet.

Presenter Terry Jones explained that, instead of huddling together to endure the Antarctic winter, these penguins took to the air and flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America where they “spend the winter basking in the tropical sun.” A follow-up video explained how the BBC created the special effects of the flying penguins.

 


5) Amazon, 2017

Amazon has created an Alexa-themed joke, with a new “Petlexa” integration, that purports to make your Echo capable of understanding queries from your pets. It mostly just consists of this video, since Amazon (understandably) didn’t build a functional version of this.

Part 2 of the “Top Ten April Fool’s Pranks” will be posted tomorrow. Which one was your favorite so far?

Related Post: Top Ten April Fool’s Pranks, Part 2

Sources: Hoaxes.org, The Verge.com, Washingtonpost.comYoutube.com

Mousse Mouse

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This was one of my kids’ favorite books.

Lucy's toy bucket.

Lucy’s toy bucket.

There is a mouse in my house!

Even if I weren’t living in a historic Victorian built in 1882, I might have a mouse in my house. But an old house has lots of great places for a mouse to come and go at will: fissures in the foundation, chinks in the brick, fireplaces, wood beams and an attic. Cute little field mice have made their presence known for years, mostly in the winter. When Polar Vortexes plus long winters equals long-term stays, I set friendly traps baited with typical mouse fare. Say cheese. Our visitors usually high-tail it outside in warmer months.

One year, my cat cornered a cute, little field mouse in the bathroom. Kimba announced her prize and the mouse sat in stunned silence. It was squeak-less.

Another year, my cat discovered a tail trailing back and forth under a kitchen cabinet toe-kick. Note to mouse: pull in your tail!

Hon, if you think my ambivalence towards cute, little field mice is due to my love of children’s literature, you would be mistaken. I’ve always loved animals, even–gasp–rodents. Just ask Hubby or my kids. They think I’m crazy when I say I bond with wild animals, but I actually do! We make eye contact. We “speak.” Either I’m Dr. Dolittle or I was a Cute Little Animal in a past life!

Do you think I should add “Bonds with Animals” to my cover letter bios? Maybe if I do, agents and editors will know that when I write from an animal’s perspective,  I am being authentic. But, I digress!

This year, our cute, little visitor seems to have moved in permanently. I heard ch, ch, ch, ch under the fridge and shone a flashlight so I could see him. I placed the open end of a friendly trap adjacent to the fridge with a bit of bait. No luck.

The next night, he moved to the linen closet.

I repeated my flashlight shining and friendly trap setting routine, switching out cheese for peanut butter. No luck.

When he moved to the laundry room, I tried to entice him with dog food. Still no luck!

Not only was this mouse disinterested in ordinary mouse fare, he was brave. My daughter ascended our creaky stairs to find the cute, little field mouse sitting in the hallway, perky as a bunny at dusk.

About a week later, Hubby was hanging out in the kitchen when you-know-who scurried out from underneath the fridge. The mouse looked at Hubby with his small, dark eyes and twitched his nose and whiskers. Hubby asked, “Who invited YOU into my kitchen?”

If creaky stairs and encounters with people couldn’t scare him away, could our dog Lucy?

When we’re in the yard and Lucy sees chipmunks, squirrels, and groundhogs (see Lucy versus Groundhogs), she either wants to make friends with them or eat them. There was evidence that the mouse had played in Lucy’s toy bucket, which sits right next to the dog bed. Lucy is also known as The-Dog-With-Bionic-Hearing-If-Deli-Meat-Is-Being-Unwrapped. Since the mouse had evidently roamed freely unscathed, I can only assume this rodent is not only a gourmand, but a hypnotist as well!

We finally called in the big guns (a pest control person) who put out more friendly traps. Still, I heard ch, ch, ch, ch under the fridge.

Since the cute, little field mouse hasn’t been interested in cheese, peanut butter or dog food, I wonder if he might like mousse. Chocolate mousse. I like chocolate mousse. I bet we would bond!

 

Sisterhood of the Traveling Bracelet

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I have a bad habit. I put things down in odd why-would-I-ever-look-there-again places and then promptly forget where I put them. I’ve devised many strategies to overcome this habit. Baking supplies are in a designated “baking section,” my phone is, generally, in the kitchen, and my keys hang on a key hook (genius, right?). But, when I travel, strategies go out the window, and I waste a lot of time looking for misplaced items.

Hon, you know the expression, “you are your own worst critic”? It’s true. I am. Maybe I should give myself a small break. The latest thing I lost was a bracelet. I was wearing it and then I wasn’t. This happened while visiting my mom in a hospice facility in Baltimore. Talk about distracted! I was that, and agitated and sad and many other emotions. But, still!

The bracelet was a birthday gift from a friend. It was made in Mexico, sold in New Jersey, traveled back to Mexico, returned to New Jersey and then lost in Baltimore. The bracelet was initially too small, but the artisan made me a really nice offer! He said he was visiting family in Mexico and would take it with him, add a couple of links, and then bring it back to New Jersey. He did, and then I lost it!

In Baltimore, I dug through my bags, re-traced my steps, left my name and number at the places I’d been, and then had a thought. To keep the environment sterile, I had to wear a gown while at the hospice facility. Maybe the bracelet had gotten caught on the cuff of the gown? Maybe it was in the garbage?

I called the facility and, when I visited my mom again, searched for the bracelet to no avail. I was annoyed with myself! When did it fall off? Why hadn’t I noticed earlier? Where could it be? I even considered ordering another one but didn’t want to ask for another bracelet to take another trip.

A few weeks later, while emptying a knitting bag, guess what fell out. My bracelet! I couldn’t believe it! Yay!

Either it fell off and into the bag without my realizing it OR is it possible I took it off before gowning up? And if I did, why-oh-why would I drop it in the bottom of a knitting bag and not put it somewhere I might remember? Oh yeah, I know why…because I have a bad habit!

I’d love to hear your lost-and-found stories!

Related Post: Losing things may be genetic. Click Found In a Fishing Boot to another lost-and-found story.

Shout out to Lucy who lent me her tail for the photo. (“Woof!”)

 

 

Kindergarteners Are Super

School Visit Materials

School Visit Materials

Last week, on World Read Aloud Day, I shared my love of Kidlit by reading and acting out scenes with Kindergarteners. Not only did I read Ninja by Arree Chung and Twenty-Six Pirates by David Horowitz, I read my own picture book manuscript to three classes.

Since the topic of my picture book is superheroes, I created a handout where the kids could write their superhero name and power and illustrate their super people. The five and six year-olds then shared their creations with each other. Fun!

The kids were excited to be the FIRST kids to see my book dummy.

Reading from my book dummy.

Channeling my charactesrs.

Channeling my characters.

Acting out scenes.

Acting out scenes.

I'm getting into character.

Showing not telling.

Shout out to Wyoming Elementary School’s Kindergarten teachers. When I thanked them for allowing me to visit their classrooms, one teacher sent me this: “Thanks goes to you, Mrs. Gruer, for continuing to be a reading inspiration to the children at Wyoming School!!” Wasn’t that nice?

Super Kids’ Quotes:

To the question, “If you were a superhero, what would your power be?”

A boy answered: “Ocean! I’d save everything that lives in the ocean, even sharks, and all the sea creatures would love me.”

A girl answered: “My superpower is fire and fly!”

Another girl answered: “I am strong and speed!”

To the question, “If you were a superhero, what would your name be?”

One boy asked, “How do you spell “Estaban the Magnificent?'”

 

Happy Dolly-Day!

Dolly, my aunt's cat.

Dolly appeared on Bmore Energy before. Click here to read about this rescue kitty’s history. In this photo, her tilting ears, slightly lowered head, and curling tail show that she is wary of the visitor (me). 

I’ve always loved animals but, before we adopted a dog, I considered myself a cat person.

As a child, I spent hours playing with our cat Sugar. In college, my roommates and I had several cats, and Hubby and had two beautiful Himalayans, Katie and Kimba. So, even though I now know what a dog is saying–trust, me I narrate Lucy’s thoughts much to Hubby’s annoyance, I also know how to read a cat. When my aunt’s cat, Dolly, came out of hiding to inspect the me, she talked with her body language.

Here’s the translation.

"You might be friendly, but I'm watching you."

“I’m watching you.”

"My mommy's here which makes me feel safe, but so are you, and that doesn't!"

“My mommy makes me feel safe. You don’t.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"There's a box I must get to."

“I am temporarily ignoring you while I explore the jungle!”

"Don't look at me! I'm trying to hide."

“I am a either a wild cat hiding in tall grass or a city cat hiding behind files.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"I really want to go inside the box, but I haven't fully committed because you are here."

“I’ll go in the box as long as you don’t make any sudden movements.”

"Boxes are awesome, but you're not."

“Boxes are awesome, but I’m still on alert.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"This is as close as I'm getting.

“Whew! Safe! I made it in the box…but I’m keeping my eyes on you!”

Hon, do you narrate your pet’s thoughts?  I can’t be the only one!

Previous post on Dolly where you can read about her rescue.

I Turned Into An Elephant Seal

Elephant Seals resting in Big Sur.

Elephant Seals resting in Big Sur.

On a recent trip to California, Hubby and I stopped at Elephant Seal Beach in Big Sur where hundreds, if not thousands, of Elephant Seals snoozed. It was an amazing sight! A guide informed us that the beach was covered mainly with young males, who were resting after spending months in the ocean. He said seals swim 24 hours a day and dive to great depths in search of food but, when they stop on the beach, they don’t eat anything at all.  Which brings me to why…

…I turned into an Elephant Seal after Thanksgiving!

You know I love to cook and entertain, and I was thrilled to have all of my kids under one roof,  in addition to my parents and a daughter’s friend. It was wonderful to see sisters, brothers, grandmas, grandpa, nieces, nephews and cousins. I was on adrenaline overload. So, at the end of the holiday, when I collapsed on the couch for an entire day, all I could think was, I am beached like an Elephant Seal! I  could not move. One big difference between me and a seal, however, is that I still ate.

Hon, there was leftover pie.

Isn't this seal adorable?

Isn’t he adorable?

Two snoozers. They scratch themselves with their flippers.

Two snoozers. They scratch themselves with their flippers.

Have you been to Elephant Seal Beach? What month did you go? The Elephant Seal Beach web-site says what the seals are doing on the beach each month. Fascinating!

Zombies Unite! Redux.

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Happy Halloween!

I posted this a couple of years ago, but think it’s worthy of sharing again.  My daughter and some friends are planning on watching horror movies tonight.  Guess where I’ll be?  On the couch right next to them having a blast.  Pass the popcorn!

For those that like zombies, monsters, witches, spiders, skeletons, horror movies, haunted houses, dressing up, trick-or-treating and, of course, candy! Hon, I like all of those things. Surprised?

When I was in high school, my friend and I would rent two movies whenever I slept over. First, we’d watch a horror movie, then a comedy. We loved all the horror movies and psychological thrillers of the ’80’s. Halloween, Friday the 13th, The Exorcist; you name it, we watched it. While watching the movies, we’d cling to each other for dear life, shriek our brains out and then laugh hysterically.  My friend’s mom would called down from the top of the stairs, “Girls, you’re making too much noise! Please stop screaming!”  Of course, that made us laugh until we cried. In another post, I’ll tell you the practical joke my friend’s younger brother played on. He gets points for creativity!

I recently saw The Conjuring and loved it! The Woman in Black and World War Z were scary.  And, although I don’t care for the Saw movies, an old-fashioned horror movie makes me feel like I’m on a rollercoaster right there in the theatre.  So fun!

So what’s up with the zombies?

I passed a house decorated for Halloween a bunch of times before I stopped to take a closer look. The zombies drew me over, but the ghouls on the porch kept me there. They are freaky! They make my Halloween decorations look quaint in comparison. Some of the zombies have eyes that light up at night. They look like they’re coming out of the bushes.  Check out the giant spider web on the porch! Who’s the unlucky bloke (yes, bloke!) that’s been trapped?

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Guess where I’ll be on Halloween?  Driving by the zombie house. I bet they’ll have dry ice to set the mood.

Do you have fun plans?