Monday, September 21, 2009

Temple Civic Theatre Production of "The Arkansaw Bear"

Logo for 'Arkansaw Bear'
The Temple Civic Theatre is presenting a Youth Production of Aurand Harris' "The Arkansaw Bear." This is going to be a great performance (and I'm not just saying that because one of my boys is in it, either). I highly encourage you to attend a showing.

Tickets go on sale Tuesday, September 22nd and cost $8.00 for adults and $5 for youth under 13. The box office is open from 9:30am to 1:30pm.

Performances are scheduled as follows:
  • Friday, September 25th at 7:30pm
  • Saturday, September 26th at 7:30pm
  • Sunday, September 27th at 2:30pm
The Theatre is located at 2413 South 13th St, off HK Dodgen Loop behind the Summit Recreation Center:

Temple Civic Theatre flyer for 'The Arkansaw Bear'

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Professor Slavitsky's English Lesson

Warning: This story makes many references to the "F-word." Although I will make this as family-friendly as possible, some might be offended.

While I learned Czech at the Defense Language Institute, one of our teachers was a linguistics professor in (at the time) Czechoslovakia, Dr. Slavitsky.

One day, Dr. Slavitsky came into class and announced to us: "I just watched 'Eddie Murphy: Raw' and I have a number of questions about this word F***. He uses it as a noun, a verb, an adjective, and adverb, an exclamation and in many other ways I simply do not understand. Will you please explain this 'f***' to me?" He held up the video as he said this.

Of course, being rough and tough young soldiers, all of us in the class were well-versed in the use of the F-word. Because all of us were from different parts of the country, we also had knowledge of the unique way the f-word is used in different parts of the US. It was natural for us to be able to fully explain to Dr. Slavitsky the proper (or, more appropriately, improper) use of it in colloquial speech.

Also, most of us having seen "Eddie Murphy: Raw" we knew what the good doctor was referring to when he mentioned the different parts of speech in which the f-word was used. Being rather current and fresh in our minds, we were more than able to discuss this as an intellectual pursuit.

Each of us, in turn, went to the chalk board and wrote down a sentence or two using the f-word which we either remembered from the video or from our own vast experience using the word. We would go over our sentence, explaining in detail what the sentence meant, and answer any questions Dr. Slavitsky might have. Of course, each question led to a different sentence, which led to more explanation, which led to even more instances of the f-word being written on the board.

Over the course of the hour, as we talked, Dr. Slavitsky took copious notes in the composition notebook he always carried. He wrote furiously, diagramming sentences and making arrows and underlining things he wrote as we emphasized certain points of "grammar." All in all I think he learned more English slang that day than a normal student of American English might learn in a month. He took it all in, occasionally looking up and saying, "Yes, yes, go on."

At the end of the hour, he thanked us for helping him better understand the f-word and left us to our next teacher. Our next teacher just happened to be our homeroom teacher, Mrs. Lang.

Mrs. Lang was a wonderful lady, who I describe as being "grandmotherly." Indeed, she was old enough to be a grandmother to most of us in the class. She was a proper lady who came from a family of means (at least they were of means before the Communists took over after World War II).

We came into class and sat at our desks, never thinking about the verbal carnage we'd left on the chalk board during the previous hour. Nor had any of us erased what was there. I don't think we did this deliberately, I think we just didn't think about it.

Mrs. Lang came into the class a few minutes late. As she turned toward the front of the class from closing the door, her eyes fell upon the, perhaps, hundreds of sentences on the chalk board - each containing one form of the f-word or another. I distinctly remember the color draining from her face and the audible gasp she made as she read some of the filth we'd managed to conjure up.

In a very un-grandmotherly fashion, she sprinted across the room, lunged over the desk and managed to grab the eraser from the chalk board's ledge and erase a good portion of the board before she almost toppled over the desk head first. She managed to complete her lunge over the desk, plant both her feet in front of the board and continue erasing in almost one motion. She spoke with each stroke of the eraser, in much the same fashion as one might speak to a child with each swing during a spanking: "I ... don't ... know ... what ... Professor ... Slavitsky ... was ... thinking ... having ... you ... talk ... about ... such ... filth ... instead of ... training ... your ... lesson ... from ... the ... book!"

After the board was erased, Mrs. Lang took a deep breath and composed herself again. She picked up her book and started the lesson as if nothing had happened. Flappable, but only for a short time.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fest Call!

In one of my previous lives I was in the Army stationed in Augsburg, Germany. During my time there, it seemed like there was a beer fest every couple of months. A beer fest is something Bavarians do very well. The organizers will erect a huge tent, place a stage at one end and along one side will be station food and beverage vendors. While the fest is going, there will be an "Oompah" band playing, people sitting at long tables drinking beer and eating.

The food at one of these events is to amazing. 1/2 chickens cooked on rotisseries, giant pretzels, bread with salmon and onions - all truly, amazingly good. (The beer isn't bad either, as I was known to imbibe during my misspent youth).

The ladies who carry the beers and food back and forth are a sight to watch. Some will carry up to 12 mugs (Biermass) of beer at a time as they make their rounds through the tent. These mugs aren't what we're used to seeing in the States, either. Each mug is made of glass, holds a liter of beer and is stout enough to handle clanking together as is tradition in that part of the world. Empty they weigh, probably, four or five pounds. The ladies rush about, wearing the traditional dirndl dress, toting those mugs. Some of them had arms like Popeye - no exaggeration.

On one occasion, some friends and I were enjoying the food and music at the Augsburg German-American Fest. At the next table there were two groups: a bunch of soldiers and a bunch of German youths who looked to be about college age. Neither group interacted with the other until... The Incident.

One of the beer ladies came and deposited a few beers in front of the soldiers at the next table. Now, when beer or food is delivered, these ladies expect prompt payment and get rather terse when payment is not forthcoming. One of the soldiers in the group protested that they hadn't ordered the beers. There was somewhat of a language gap because he wasn't speaking German and the lady wasn't speaking English - but I think the disagreement was understood. After a few minutes of back and forth the soldier stood up quite suddenly. The lady, wanting no trouble from a potentially drunk American soldier took a huge swing at him, hit him square in the chin and knocked him out cold on the ground. I mean, she cold-cocked him and flattened him right there.

All of the sudden, all the Germans at the table stood up and faced towards the Americans - who also stood up to face the Germans. I elbowed my friends, thinking a fight was about to ensue and that we should beat a hasty retreat. A few tense moments went by, after which both groups turned to look at the kid on the ground, pointed at him and started laughing.

Afterwards both groups bought each other rounds, "prosting" and high-fiving.

German-American relations were just a little bit better that evening.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Help My Sisters Help The American Heart Association

My sisters are participating in the Heart Walk in Austin, Texas to help raise money for The American Heart Association. They both set a goal to raise $200.

Please consider helping one or both of them. Here are their donation pages:

Thanks very much.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I've Given Up TV

Yes, it's true - I've given up TV.

I've been a TV junkie pretty much all my life. Other than short periods where I was denied TV because of my location or situation I've not gone without TV for very long. On those rare occasions, too, the decision was made for me.

This time, it's different. I needed an adjustment in my life. My wonderful wife had the inspiration to give up TV for 40 days. We started on Friday. Basically, anything that involves using our television receiver is taboo, including: cable television, movies on the DVD player or streamed via Netflix, games on the xBox360, etc.

So far I've done more blog posts on those days than I've probably done in a month. She and I have played games together, read and caught up on things that TV "just got in the way" of.

I joke around that I've got a "TV jones" going. Really, though, it's not bad at all. I think I feel my brain's recent atrophy clearing up. Perhaps this will lead to a greatly reduced "tube time" in our lives. I shudder to think of what I could accomplish if I just spent less time in front of that thing.