Friday, December 29, 2006


I wish I were talking about emotional investments (I have plenty of those!). Alas, I just opened my first "real" investment account - a mutual fund/money market account meant to build up an emergency pot of gold for me. This is, of course, in addition to my retirement fund.

Anyone have suggestions? At this point, I look at all the options (trade, buy in, sell, etc) and I'm lost. I feel excited and overwhelmed, and I judge that I am undereducated on this topic. I could use any advice y'all might have for me.

Thanks! -Em

P.S. The y'all was for Michael.

I'm here

Well, I'm here and after my first restless night, I will begin in just a half an hour. Feeling anxious... There are 48 participants here, some from London and as far away as Barcelona. Driving from the airport brought back memories that made me think of all of you and the wonderful world we created for ourselves. I'm so grateful for that time. Thank you!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Summer plans

I'm looking for advice, friends.

I realize I may be a little late in planning this (in terms of application deadlines), but I'm trying to figure out what to do with myself next summer. Any suggestions of programs, job opportunities, workshops, seminars, or awesome travel options? The world is my oyster, as it were....


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Holiday Query

So, I'm wondering how many of your received Shakespearean-themed gifts this holiday season?

My family seemed happy to embrace the Bard as a theme - a historical picture book, a leather bound complete works, two plays-as-comic books (Macbeth and Lear), and the Shakespeare Songbook recommended by Christine on the Amazon list (which, by the way, is just as marvelous as she promised). This is in addition to the bust of Shakespeare my sister gave me for my birthday (which now sits proudly a top the piano in my living room).

What about you guys?

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Institute Dream

I had an Institute dream this morning. I dreamed that I got really mad at Rachael (she had said something sarcastic about my turn at check-in, I think), started crying, and left the room. Kevin was walking down the path and I ran to hug him. He asked what was wrong, then reminded me that it was third week.

When I woke up, I smiled to think of the weird tension that did, indeed, start during week three, and the way that we all sort of used "It's week three" as a mantra. This dream reminded me to maintain perspective, cause let me tell you, some of y'all were getting on my nerves in week three, but now I have [almost] nothing but fond memories.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lost Sheep Finds Blog

I thought I had forgotten my password and thus, lost forever my ability to post, but inspiration hit while I was watching Amanda's dancing videos. There clearly are good NITS vibes in the air today--I got some of my high school students to do a demonstration of Dibble dancing (the pavanne, the galliard and the country dance from this summer) at the 4th grade Renaissance Feast today. We're in the middle of exams, but my kids actually gave up their break period to dance. Said one kid: "I'm better able to do AP Physics after a good Galliard." Weird. I'm never able to do AP Physics.
After School we've just started working on "Midsummer" which was the seniors' choice for the winter play, but which I'm still trying to find my way toward.

However, we're using a folio text for the production which lead to the following rather brilliant moment:
9th Grade Egeus: "Thou, thou Lysander, thou hast given her rimes--whoa! wait! Is that some kind of STD??

Here's hoping none of you get rimes, but have happy holidays!

More of "Much Ado"

If you just can't get enough junior high Shakespeare, I've uploaded more videos from my play to my blog.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Great Artists Steal, Right?

Whoo!! Just finished our run of "Much Ado", to my satisfaction and a very, very happy cast. I'll post more about the whole schebang after I've gotten some sleep, but I wanted to share this little bit with y'all right away. I placed this dance at Hero's "funeral". The techie who filmed for me went a little pan-happy, but I hope the intended effect is still there.

You were all with me in spirit for this bit.

Okay, dinner and bed now - I'm hitting my post-show crash.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas

For those of you who enjoy a constant stream of Christmas cheers during this holiday season try:

If you select seasonal music you have a choice of Christmas music to delight even the most Scrooge-like among you.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Greetings from the newest blue state: Ohio!

Greetings all,

I've been following the blog and missing you all.

Here's a pic of Steph and me at the Toledo Museum of Art, about half way between Cleveland and Detroit. We had a nice afternoon last month reminiscing about NITS 06 and somehow a large bouquet of flowers sprang from Steph's head. Ok, my son took the photo.

The other photo is our poster for Into the Woods. We had over 100 students involved. I added a "movement chorus" who lived in abstract trees and punctuated the action, changed locales, and also became rocks etc. We just closed last weekend and I'm trying to rest...just in time for soccer-mom carpooling and the holidays!

Merry merry.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Lobster Boy -- The Long-Awaited Explanation

Here's the requested Lobster Boy explanation. I'm sorry this is such a long post, but you really have to know all of this stuff to fully understand the Lobster Boy story. Our Kodak website has some photos from Dave which will serve to enhance the latter part of this story.

The Beginning: Summer, 1998

Once upon a time, in a bookstore in Branson, I stumbled across a true crime novel called Lobster Boy. It’s the true story of a woman who became so fed-up with her abusive husband that she hired her son-in-law to kill him. This seems like a very humdrum, “Lifetime movie” story (and, indeed, it is a badly-written book) until you realize there’s a bizarre element that makes this story stand out from others: the fact that the abusive husband was Grady Stiles, Jr., otherwise known as Lobster Boy. He was born with appendages that looked (and worked) like lobster claws instead of hands and feet. He was the son of Grady Stiles, Sr., (Lobster Man), who suffered, of course, from the same congenital deformity. The abused wife was a former bearded lady. The son-in-law (married, of course, to Lobster Girl) who killed Lobster Boy was a human blockhead – one of those guys who drives spikes into his head through his nose. They all lived in a little town in Florida populated almost exclusively by sideshow freaks and carnies.

What fascinated me most about the book was the “sixteen pages of shocking photos” contained at its center.

I asked my friend Randy Story (who was with me in the bookstore) to take a look at the book.

“No,” he said. “I don’t like gross, gory things like that.”

“C’mon,” I said. “It’s a book about revenge in the freak show community. How can you resist it?”

Randy continued to object, and I continued to insist… until a practical joke was born.

I decided I would buy several copies of Lobster Boy, and hide them in places where Randy would find them. Eventually, he would have to read the book.

The Saga Continues: 1998-2004

I began by hiding the book in obvious places – his medicine chest, his freezer, etc. He would find the book quickly, then give it back to me without comment. This, of course, would give me very little satisfaction.

I began hiding the book in places not so obvious. I emptied out the Swiss Miss Instant Cocoa box in his kitchen cabinet and replaced the packets with Lobster Boy (it fit perfectly!). It was a month or so before he found it there. I hid another copy of the book in his MODEL OF THE GLOBE THEATRE (the requisite model every drama teacher has in his classroom) with the face of Grady Stiles, Jr., peeking out through one of the tiny windows. A couple of months after I nestled the book into this new hiding place, a student announced to Randy in the middle of class, “Hey, Mr. Story, there’s a little man looking out one of the windows of the Globe Theatre!”

I once convinced a seller of rare books from another state to send Randy a copy of Lobster Boy instead of the out-of-print Old-Time Radio book he had ordered. I had to pay the guy twenty bucks, but it was worth it.

Sadly, Randy never gave me the satisfaction of letting me know his reaction to any of these encounters with the book. I could only imagine his surprise, shock, and consternation. Eventually, Randy stopped giving me back my copies of Lobster Boy.

Thank God for Although it’s out of print, it’s still available – often at a very reasonable price.

I eventually tired of the game. He wasn’t going to read the book, he wasn’t going to respond, and he wasn’t going to retaliate. So I gave up. Until…

A Hope Reborn: Summer, 2006

One night in Hubbard House a bunch of NITS people were talking about practical jokes. I told them about the Lobster Boy adventure. My brother Dave Wilson said if he was ever anywhere near Missouri, he would like to be the random guy who just walks up to Randy and hands him a copy of Lobster Boy.

I kept these words in my heart.

Opportunity – A Shining Gift from God: October, 2006

My friend Randy told me he would be missing a few days of school late in October because he would be attending, for the first time, the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention.

In Newark, New Jersey.

New Jersey. The home of Dave Wilson.

I e-mailed Dave and told him “the Lobster Boy guy” would be in Newark at the end of October. Dave’s response: “Sweet Jesus, I’m only fifteen minutes away!”

A plot was then hatched for the greatest Lobster Boy caper ever.

Dreams Becoming Reality: Late October, 2006

Here’s the (fairly) elaborate plan I laid out.

Dave was to appear at the Friends of Old Time Radio convention pretending to be Tim Burton’s East Coast casting director. He would explain that he had come to audition people for Tim’s new animated film. He would eventually approach Randy, saying he had heard some of his audio work (Randy, in real life, is an amazing voice talent – he’s worked with some of the best artists in the audio theater business). He would, hopefully, set up an audition with Randy. If Randy inquired about the title of the new project, Dave would tell him it’s a secret, but that he would share the source material with him during the audition.

On the next day, during the “audition,” Dave would open up a locked briefcase. Out of that, he would take another locked case. He would unlock that case, and take out a package. He would open the package, and take out of that yet another package. Finally, he would remove the “source material” for Tim Burton’s new film and give it to Randy.

The “source material,” of course, would be Lobster Boy. The ultimate delivery of the accursed book.

Ah, how brilliant and beautiful.

ABORT PLAN A! Late October, 2006

Here’s what really happened. On the day before Dave was to put this plan into action, I had a change of heart. One of Randy’s big dreams is to someday be a voice in an animated feature film, and it seemed that, after thinking about it for a while, it would be unduly cruel to make him think he had a chance to be in a film like this when it was really just a hoax. Dave was willing to do it (although he said he would feel sorry for the guy), and I’m sure he could have pulled it off, but ultimately it was too mean-spirited. So, I modified the plan a bit. Dave became a mysterious messenger, delivering the highly-prized Lobster Boy (complete with bizarre packaging and an aluminum briefcase) to Randy with no explanation at all.

Randy called me up immediately upon receiving the package. The people at the front desk actually x-rayed it before giving it to him, telling him the contents weren’t explosive. He said, “I don’t know how you did it, Wilson, but I’ve got another copy of Lobster Boy. Who did it? Who did it? Who do you know in New Jersey?”

Using my best New Jersey accent (which, of course, is really bad) “I’ve got a guy…”

It didn’t have the whammy I originally intended, but it DID convince Randy that Lobster Boy’s reach is (at least) nationwide.

And that’s the Lobster Boy saga. For now, anyway.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Why I'VE Been A Bad Blogger

Dear Friends:

I've been uncommunicative this entire month because of the crazy contest Craig turned me on to: National Novel Writing Month. I didn't win (everyone who finishes a 50,000-word novel in the space of a month "wins"), but I did write over 30,000 words. I wrote enough to fall in love with the story and the main character, so I'm definitely finishing the book. My new goal is to finish it by the end of this school year.

I'll be posting each chapter as I finish it. So far I've posted 8 chapters. I've written more words, but I didn't want to post any of the out-of-sequence stuff. If you'd like to read my progress so far, you'll find a link to my blog in the "links" section (thanks to Amanda) on the right-hand side of this page.

I owe this community a couple of blog posts -- one about the Lobster Boy adventure, and another about the play my drama class is doing in the Spring.

My first Shakespearean production.

Is it Titus Andronicus?

Sadly, no. Reason and good taste must prevail when working with students.

This Spring, Mr. Wilson's drama class will be performing The Tempest.

More about all this later.

Love to you all. It's good to be blogging again.