Thursday, September 14, 2017

Chicago Fringe Festival Day 3: That's Weird Grandma, Murmurations, Melody

Last Saturday, my son and I spent about 5 hours on a beautiful Saturday afternoon watching shows at the Chicago Fringe Festival.

It was the last weekend of the Fringe, and it was a lot of fun.  It was (I think) my son's first Fringe festival, and I don't think he'd been to 3 shows in one day.

Overall, he had a pretty great time!


(If you want to read some of my other reviews of the Fringe, here they are:)

Preview of Chicago Fringe 2017

Chicago Fringe Day 1:  Just Add Gravity, Underneath the Lintel, Mark Toland Mind reader.

Chicago Fringe Day 2:  Mistero Buffo, Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth, LoFi Dance Records

Chicago Fringe Day 3: That's Weird Grandma, Murmurations, Melody Superhero Ballet


PLEASE NOTE: As with many of the theatre shows I review on this site, I did receive free entry to the shows with the hope that I would write about them.  My opinions remain my own, uninfluenced by the price.  I take my integrity seriously, and so should you.


While the shows are now over, many of these companies are Chicago based and continue to run programs that it is possible to see.   I also think it's good to give artists a review of their work.

All told I saw 9 shows at the Fringe this year, and had a great time doing it.  I hope to go to at least as many shows next year!

Here are the reviews of the shows we saw on the last Saturday of the Fringe.

That's Weird Grandma by Barrel of Monkeys




That's Weird Grandma is a show by Chicago group Barrel of Monkeys.  They do something smart and pretty interesting.  They go into schools and work with kids on storytelling.  The kids write the stories, and then the improv troupe acts them out, the best of the stories they collect and put together into their shows, which appear regularly on Chicago stages (after the Fringe festival, they are starting another open-ended run at the NeoFuturarium.) In this way, they are getting paid by the schools to work together to develop material, and at the end, the student writers get to see their work put on by a professional company rather than just sit on a refrigerator somewhere. It's Win, Win, Win!

The show was a lot of fun, mostly because the stories all featured amazing kid logic.  One of the stories was about a pie that doesn't want to be a cannibal and refuses to eat other pies.  Another one featured a kid who wished for wizarding powers and what happened once she got them.  A third story was a monologue by the monster that lives under the bed.  The stories were all printed in the program, so you could compare the source material with the adaptation.

The 55 minute show had 15 stories in it, performed by a cast of 7 or so plus a musician who provided musical sound effects for all the shows. The costumes and props are relatively minimal (although there was a unicorn head that was fantastic as a mask.  The acting was fine and entirely servicable, although perhaps a touch too broad all the time.  It would have been nice to see on occasion, a lighter touch.  Perhaps the best thing that can be said about the acting is that it never makes fun of the subject matter.  The actors are there to serve the story, and they do.

This was an enjoyable show, and I'd highly recommend seeing a version of it if you get a chance.
(as I mentioned they will be doing an open ended run at the Neo Futurarium in the fall)

Find out more about Barrel of Monkeys and That's Weird Grandma

See a video about the process behind That's Weird Grandma




Semi- Circus  Murmurations


The next show we saw was a circus from new circus group Semi Circus.  Semi-Circus started in 2016 as a circus collective.  They use circus skills, physical theater, improv and other skills to create plays.  Murmurations is their first show.

The show starts off as a kind of therapy session.  A therapist comes in and asks an audience member if they have been working on what they talked about last week.  She then asks other audience members.  Slowly the company comes in, and each of them has a quirk.  Throughout the course of the show, each person stands forward to do their act as a way of dealing with/ expressing their quirk.

By the way, a murmuration is a formation of starlings that make complex and interesting formations as they fly.  This is a good word for this kind of work, as the actors murmurate (assuming it's a verb) as they display their skills and their foibles.

The show was a very lovely mix of circus and theatre.  There was a lot of comedy, some very impressive skills, and a lot of heart to the show.  One particularly moving part for me was when the therapist does her bit, which involved a talking belly (her own).  It was funny, brave, hilarious, and moving all at once.

The company is directed by local circus writer Kimzyn Campbell, and two of her children are in the show as well.  It reminded me a lot of the Montreal circus company Sept Droits de la Main (7 Fingers of the Hand), a group of young circus artists who have now built seven or eight shows that tour worldwide with a similar aesthetic.  The 7 Fingers are more virtuosic in their circus skills, but the ability to really share stories while in a handstand, or while juggling, or by doing barrel rolls is in some ways more important, and these young performers have that.

 I look forward to seeing the next iteration of either this show or a new one.
Find out more about Semi Circus on their facebook page.


Melody by Tiffany Lawson Dance


The last show we saw of the Chicago Fringe was Melody by Tiffany Lawson Dance.  Billed as an original superhero ballet, the show follows young dancer Melody, who has super powerful feet, and uses her dancing to vanquish bad guys.  Her friends include Hoops, Hugs, and Courage, and they help her to get through to defeat her evil twin Dissonance.  There is a live band, including a trombone player that was a lot of fun to watch and listen to.

Looking at their website, this looks like a show that they toured to Chicago libraries this summer. It seems like a great fit for a library's young audiences program.

However, my son is 9, and we were hoping for an actually choreographed superhero ballet, complete with lots of athletic moves and powers.  This was more like a way to get kids to see their first dance show.

Don't get me wrong, the show was great for the 3-5-year-old set, who got to dance, and sing, and see live music and dance being played out.  There were a lot of interactive little pieces, including a pre-show by one of the performers who is apparently also a kid's music singer, and he played some nice interactive songs (and plugged his CD!) During the show, director Tiffany was very proactive in making sure that kids would be included, would get up and dance, and helped encourage them.

This was listed as an all ages show, but without the participation element, I think the story, the performance, and the dancing were all too simplistic to be of much interest to non-parents or older kids.  If you have younger kids, though, I think this would be a lot of fun.  (My son would have loved it 6 years ago!)

Find out more about Tiffany-Lawson Dance on their website.  http://www.tiffany-lawson.com/

Apparently, they do a lot of stuff that is not kid oriented, and I'd be interested to see that sometime!

Well, that wraps up my Fringe reviewing this season (unless some of the later Fringe's in the season want to fly me out to their Fringe to do more reviews, put me up, pay my per diem, and a small stipend! (I am open for suggestions!)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Edgewater Triangle House Tour, September 17




Every year since 1989, the Edgewater Historical Society has presented at least one historical house tour a year. They typically focus on an area of Edgewater approximately 1 mile in diameter, and have 10 or so historic houses to tour.  This year the area being presented is the Edgewater Triangle, 

At each home, a volunteer docent will meet you on the outside of the house, tell you something about the exterior, and then a few at a time, people will be allowed into the interior where another docent will highlight some of the interior features.

 Depending on the owner's wishes, some rooms of the house may not be available for touring.

Reservations are not required.  

To register, visit the Edgewater Baptist Church at 1401 West Hollywood Ave between noon and 4 pm (starred on the map)  and receive your Tour Book and guide.  

The cost of the tour is $25 per person, and the houses are available to tour between noon and 5 pm

The homes that are being visited are on Glenwood, Edgewater, Ridge, Hollywood and Victoria.

The event happens rain or shine!



For more details visit the Edgewater Historical Society's website.

If you look at some of the previous archives of house tours (generously maintained by the society on their website, you'll see this great advertisement for houses in the Edgewater area.  These were being sold by the founder of Edgewater, John Lewis Cochran.  It's fascinating stuff!



Saturday, September 9, 2017

Chicago Fringe Reviews: Day 2: Mistero Buffo, Dandy Darkly, and LoFi Records

For my second foray into the Chicago Fringe, I saw three shows on Friday night.  I was a little disappointed that none of the shows were particularly well attended. (I estimate that the 7 pm show I saw had 15 people, the 8:30 pm show had about 25, and the 10 pm show had 5.)  For a Friday night and for the quality of the offerings, this is too low.  Start Fringing people!  There are just two more days (including today!) to see shows for this year, and there's still lots of great stuff going on.

Here are reviews of the shows I saw last night:  (pardon any grammatical errors, I want to get the reviews out there.)


PLEASE NOTE: As with many of the theatre shows I review on this site, I did receive free entry to the shows with the hope that I would write about them.  My opinions remain my own, uninfluenced by the price.  I take my integrity seriously, and so should you.

(and if you want to read some of my other reviews of the Fringe, here they are:)

Preview of Chicago Fringe 2017

Chicago Fringe Day 1:  Just Add Gravity, Underneath the Lintel, Mark Toland Mind reader.

Chicago Fringe Day 2:  Mistero Buffo, Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth, LoFi Dance Records

Chicago Fringe Day 3: That's Weird Grandma, Murmurations, Melody Superhero Ballet

Mistero Buffo performed by Panos Vlahos.



I was very excited to see this show, as I am a big fan of Dario Fo.  (In 1996, as part of Copenhagen Cultural city, I went to a conference by ISTA in Cultural Anthropology.  I went because Eugenio Barba, Jerzy Grotowski, and Dario Fo were all going to be in the same place at the same time.  Just after my conference, there was a Commedia Dell'arte Festival which I crashed, and I ended up taking a workshop with Dario Fo, and then basically just followed him to all of his events and performances.  In 1997 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Now, I am NOT saying that there is a causal connection between my studying with him and him winning the Nobel  I leave that for others to decide!  :O)  )

Mistero Buffo (The Clown Mysteries) is Dario's take on medieval mystery plays-- he tells stories and parables from the Bible from the clown's point of view.   I've watched Dario perform some of those pieces, both on video and in person, and Dario has a very light touch, so that he tells these stories in a way that is first funny, and secondly serious.  (Actually as a performer, I took this idea from watching Dario work:  To tell great stories from a vulgar point of view)

The comedy makes the tragedy very powerful, and leapfrogs what is possible if it were a straight tragedy (or even just a comedy)  This is what makes Dario's work so wonderful, it contains both tragedy and comedy, and the comedy is so funny that it knocks you down, and the tragedy is so strong it makes you cry, and if it hits you just right you are laughing and crying at the same time.  Dario performed this play in football stadiums during the 80's and 90's.



The show starts with a great promise.  The audience is in the round, and Panos has slipped into the circle.  While we are waiting for the show to begin, Panos asks somebody quietly "Are you here for the miracle?"  And he continues to ask this, of multiple members of the audience, and then through this he starts to tell his story.  And what is theatre if not a miracle?  As he starts to enact the miracle, he tells the story of how he was changed by Jesus, and then he starts to act out all of the parts.

Panos is a strong and supple actor with a lot of range.  He's graceful, he's handsome, and he has a winning personality.  His characterizations and his mime/physical body work are strong.  To say he is no Dario Fo is no insult, but after watching the show, I was still a little disappointed that he is no Dario Fo.

To my mind, the show was too strident too often, and Panos used his powerful physique and voice to hit the door, to yell, to run around without the subtlety that makes the sum more than its parts.  The show overstressed the tragic elements and didn't have a light enough touch for me.  Part of this is the presentation- Panos presents himself as a guy telling his story, and the stories are connected.  When Dario tells it, he tells it at a remove.  He is Dario Fo, putting on a character telling a story, and after the story he becomes Dario Fo again. And then tells you the next one.  Panos is the character from the start.

I still recommend seeing this show, as the acting work is strong, and the stories are great.  Perhaps the flaw is that I am too knowledgeable.  I wanted to see Dario Fo do this work again, and not a different interpretation.  (Which brings me to my favorite fortune cookie, which is often true for me, and seems apropos here:  The joy of what you have is lost by wanting more. )

One word of warning:  The age recommendation says G- general audiences, but there is at least one graphic scene in which a man's wife is raped in front of him.  The F word is used several times, and I am glad that I didn't have my 9-year-old son with me for that.

There are two more shows in the Chicago Fringe,  Saturday, Sep 9, 2017 @ 5:30pm and Sunday, Sep 10, 2017, @ 2:30 pm.  Find out more here:  http://chicagofringe.org/shows/mistero-buffo/

Find out more about Panos and his show at http://www.misterobuffo.com

And here's a taste of Dario Fo, performing The Resurrection of Lazarus in Italian for Italian TV in the early 1990s.  Stick with it.  Even though you might not understand Italian, he's still great!

 

Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth

Dandy's poster from the Edinburgh Fringe
Dandy Darkly has no more shows in the Chicago Fringe (he's moving on to San Francisco this week and Charm City Fringe in Baltimore after that)  But I want to make sure I review the show because it is great and well worth seeing for my readers in those areas.

Dandy is an alt cabaret performer, performing stories behind a musical backbeat, with drums and music and sound effects backing up what he's saying.  It's kind of what I imagine a hipster beat poetry reading being like, if hipster beat poets were flamboyantly gay, dressed in outrageously Fabulous clothing, adorned themselves with glitter, and replaced their "cool" vibe with a rococo vibe.

His words are florid and over the top, which matches his costume and glitter makeup, and that matches his personality.   Over the top is only bad when it is not filled, and Dandy does a great job of filling it all up.

The show was well-rehearsed, and his character was fabulous, but it was the words that seemed to me to be the stars of the show. His writing is in a loose scansion with enough rhyme to make me know that he was speaking poetry but not so strong that I was distracted by the scansion.  It was just right.


The stories he told went back and forth from a VR addicted college professor to a Russian dog who hates cats.  A recurring character was Cha-Cha the caveman, the first gay caveman who invented story and song and the wheel (and although not mentioned) probably glitter.  There were lots of laugh lines.

I didn't see a live band, but at the end of the show he thanked his musicians, as well he should because the music was exceedingly well timed.  It was so well timed that it made me wonder if he somehow traveled with live musicians.  (Knowing the economics of the Fringe, I highly doubt that)

There were just 25 people or so in the audience, and I felt like this show should have completely sold out.  Everybody I talked to mentioned it as one of their favorite shows of the Fringe.

Here's a little taste for you:  If you are in the area, definitely check it out!

Find out more at http://www.dandydarkly.com

  

LOFI DANCE RECORDS: Choreography by Halie Bahr


The last show of the evening I attended was LoFi Dance Records, a set of 3 dances created and performed by 4 female choreographers from Minneapolis.  They met at a dance program in Wisconsin, graduated in 2015, and are now working together in Minneapolis.

The show was relatively brief (30 minutes or so) and ended with a very earnest Q and A.  There were only 5 people in the audience, and two of them were friends of one of the dancers, so it was a very light turnout.  I've completely been there as a performer.  (One of my first solo shows, the opening night audience consisted of my aunt and uncle from Boston, the stage manager's friend, and the reviewer for the Providence Journal.  Tough crowd!)

The dances were interesting and abstract and played a lot with meeting and connection.  The first piece was a work in progress, and one thing I thought was very interesting was the fact that the dancers were checking in with each other a lot, and even touching each other.  At first, I thought it was maybe because they were unsure of the choreography, and that might have been part of it, but I also felt it was a deliberate choice.  So much modern dance doesn't include actual connections between the people, as they tend to focus on the movement and not on the person behind the movement.

The dances were pretty athletic and had some interesting movement.   I found it refreshing. At the Q and A, I asked about the process, and they mentioned that some of the dances came about through playing games and that fun of playing games shone through.  The dancers are young and talented, but I wanted a little more physical virtuosity and precision then I saw.   My suggestion to the choreographer is to get EVEN more precise, even more varied, and to make sure that all of the dancers are completely in synch.  The sync was broken a couple of times, and for me, that ruined the symmetry.  Still, well worth watching, and a different kind of show for the Fringe.

They have one more show at the Fringe- Saturday at 4 pm

Get tickets here: http://chicagofringe.org/shows/lofi-dance-records/
Find out more about their work at https://haliebahr.com/


AFTER THE SHOWS, 

I went back to the bar and had a great conversation with Randy Ross of the show Chronic Single's Handbook.  He's got two more shows in the Fringe tonight and tomorrow night, and although I won't get a chance to see his show, I wanted to shout him out.  (But don't bring the kids!)

See it if you can, and if not here, he's  performing next week in Elgin, Illinois's Fringe Festival.

THE CHRONIC SINGLE’S HANDBOOK

by Randy Ross

from Somerville, MA



    About This Show

    A chronically-single guy takes a trip around the world hoping to change his luck with love. The show offers an unflinching look at how men feel about sex, love, marriage, and massage parlors. Adult situations, adult language, and more adult situations including a visit to a body spa named The Curious Finger.
    “Fun to watch. Four stars” (review from Winnipeg fringe festival)
    “Literary” “Funny” “Raw” (from DC fringe festival)
    “Sharply funny… a quality solo show” (from Edinburgh fringe festival)

    Friday, September 8, 2017

    Okee Dokee Brothers Add 2nd show! Chicago Sept 23

    Due to the 11 am show selling out, Old Town School of Folk Music has added another show for the Grammy award winning duo The Okee Dokee Brothers.

     I've extolled the Okee Dokee brothers (Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing, not actually brothers) before (when their book Can You Canoe came out).


    I'm a big fan of their music and their style of music:  A little bit folk, a little bit pop, but full of life and the wonders of having adventures.  And perfect for the whole family!

    The Okee Dokee brothers aren't really brothers,
    but they have a lot of fun outside!
    Since that time they've won a Grammy, had an interstitial series on Kid's Place Live, and have continued to create music, write songs, and encourage kids and their families to get creative and get outdoors.

    Now you've got a chance to see them live on stage, and it's well worth bringing your family, plunking down your credit card and having some fun.



    Saturday, September 23 at 1:30 pm 
    Old Town School of Folk Music,
    4544 N Lincoln Avenue in Chicago
    Tickets: $14 general
    More info/Purchase online: OLD TOWN SCHOOL OF FOLK MUSIC


    Find out more about the brothers at http://www.okeedokee.org

    And here are some Amazon links to get you ready for the show!

       
    fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services that I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    Thursday, September 7, 2017

    Into the Scrum: On Being a Dad Influencer

    New Podcast about the community of Dad Influencers.
    Get the Podcast on Itunes
    Two friends and colleagues in the dad blogger (excuse me, Dad Influencer) world have started a great podcast that they've titled Into The Scrum.  The podcast is about the community of Dad Influencers, and as they pithily put it on their twitter feed  "How to get gigs, support colleagues, and lift all boats."

    The two colleagues are Jeff Bogle (founder and writer for Out With The Kids OWTK.COM and Doug French (Originally LaidOffDad, he's moved his blog to MrDougFrench.com and is the co-founder of Dad 2.0 Summit)

    Both are smart guys with lots of experience navigating the business of being an influencer and a fair amount of success doing it.  Jeff's blog is full of sponsored posts as a brand ambassador to Kia, PBS, and lots of other top brands.  Last year Jeff won the Iris award for his photography, and his writing is really great. (And he has two daughters, one whose nickname is "The Bear" I guess I wasn't as original as I thought!  Jeff is also a Kindie music fiend, and when I showed up at KindieFest in Brooklyn a few years ago, I was amazed to find out that he was hip deep with Kindie artists.  His Kindie podcast is also worth listening to.

     Doug deals with brands everyday as the "Content guy" at Dad 2.0.  He was an early influencer/adopter/blogger and was an author/contributor on Babble, one of the top parenting blogs.

     Their podcast is pretty funny, it's heartfelt, and it makes great points as these two guys talk about the problems and pitfalls (and joys, of course) of being a male influencer in the parenting sphere, which has been typically dominated by women (the dreaded mom bloggers).

    I've listened to the first five episodes, and while there is a small tendency to get far afield (one of the episodes spent about 5-7 minutes talking about Jeff repainting his living room from brown to teal) they talk about great stuff.

    In the first or second episode, they talk about how it is possible to be happy for other people who succeed, even when they are doing stuff you wish you had been selected to do, or feel like you could do better.  They term this JOMO (Jealousy Of Missing Out) because it is the opposite of MOJO -- which I don't have an acronym for- care to give it a whirl in the comments?  As long as the third word isn't Jerk, we are good!)

     Their argument is that there is plenty of work out there for good influencers, and they give tips on how to get that work, and best practices, and good ideas to be the best influencer you can be (both financially and morally)  Of course, a tip like "Be easy to work with" is easy to say, but they give tips like turning in your deadline assignments early, checking in with people who have hired you in the past, be genuine with your requests and interest in them as people, etc.  All excellentt advice.

    This is a great idea for a podcast, and a great time for this podcast, as things are really starting to heat up for Dad Influencers.  I've really enjoyed listening to the last 5 episodes, and I have to admit, I want to listen to more.


    In other words, I hate these rat bastids!  :O)


    The French Bogle Connection.  (Bogle on Left, French to the right)



    Tuesday, September 5, 2017

    Don't Miss: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg: (Through Sept 24 at MCA)


    As part of the last bits of summer before school started, I crossed off one of my summer bucket goals and went with my son to see the Takashi Murakami exhibit The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, which is at the MCA-Chicago through September 24.  It's an astonishing exhibit, full of exciting art, and I highly recommend you not miss it.

    Murakami is a Japanese artist that was trained in traditional Japanese ink and art techniques (He has a PHD in Nihonga, Japanese traditional painting).  He then managed to pair those techniques with Manga and Pop Art and come up with a style of art uniquely his own.  This exhibit is the first major retrospective of his work, and showcases many early works as well as brand new works created especially for this exhibit.  Many of these have never been shown in America before.
    These were two paintings on either side of the giant mural in the room.  I added them together.


    Murakami works on a huge scale; Some of his paintings are mural sized and require a team of artists to create.  A couple of sculptures in the exhibit were 20+ feet tall, and one painting was 300 feet long!  They have a great video showing the process of making the art, along with the team doing the work while Murakami okays every part of the process.


    Panoramic view of one of the larger paintings.  It doesn't really bulge like this.  The room is close to 100 yards long!



    One of Murakami's consistent characters is a mouse, who has come to represent him.  Over the years
    the mouse has mutated wildly into different characters and has different qualities.

    His work has some consistent themes:  Mutation, cartoon characters, and Arhats, Japanese healing monks.  Over the years, he has created a number of paintings of Arhats, who look like they might be R.Crumb characters, but represent different historical characters from Japan.  The work is very detailed, and Murakami oversees every part of the process.

    Some of the Arhats, or healing monks, in the giant painting 500 Arhats.


    Collaboration with Kanye West 
    Murakami's work is playful and evocative at the same time. He has weird titles, and descriptions of the paintings don't always match what's on the canvas. Although sometimes the artwork looks like graffiti, you can see underneath it all is a vast amount of technique. He has also collaborated with the likes of Louis Vuitton and Kanye West.





    A large sculpture almost looks like a manga toy
    At the gift shop,  a number of Murakami prints and other merchandise is for sale.  Murakami knows the power of branding and marketing.  Over half of the prints that were being sold were already sold out when we went (and some of them go for upwards of $5000!)  (There were plenty of t-shirts however, if you are interested!)

    A cartoon octopus, manga style by Murakami
    In addition to the Murakami exhibit, the museum has a number of other exhibits on.

    It's their 50th anniversary, and they are getting ready for that. As part of that process, they are displaying some older exhibits.  One such was Art By Telephone, where they asked artists to telephone instructions to the curators to make art, and the curators followed their instructions, thereby making art.

    They have some old-school telephones on the wall, and you can listen to the instructions. Pretty cool idea!

    My son, listening to
    some art instructions
    from 1969
    They have other older exhibits as well, including an infamous visit by performance artist Chris Burden, who lay motionless in the museum for over 48  hours.  They have some film of that, as well as newspaper articles about the furor that it caused.  Hard to imagine that a guy laying motionless would cause such a furor, but it did!

    Find out more about Murakami on his instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/takashipom/
    or on the museum's exhibit page:

    https://mcachicago.org/Exhibitions/2017/Takashi-Murakami-The-Octopus-Eats-Its-Own-Leg

    Sunday, September 3, 2017

    Blink! The bear turns 9!


    My son turned 9 yesterday.  It's a bit of a whirlwind!

    9 years ago I was a brand new dad.  I actually have a video of him right after birth.

     

    He has grown so much over the last 9 years.  (and so have I, although mostly in a circular direction)

    It seems like it was yesterday that I was singing "Did the bear make a poo to him."




     On the day before his ninth birthday, we arrived at my wife's parents beach house. My wife and I were downstairs getting stuff ready for bed, and we heard laughing upstairs. We listened, and it was my son regaling his aunt and his grandmother with a story that we hadn't heard. They were laughing uproariously as he told the story, and you could tell that he was timing his jokes, and stretching out his jokes, just like a storyteller!

    My wife and I looked at each other with wonder. When had he learned to do that? When did he become a person?

    It happened all of a sudden. I'm not sure if I could pinpoint the time and the place.  One day he was in the stroller, and the next day he was on the skateboard.

     I've said this before, but when they are little babies, everybody says "Oh it will go by so fast!" And you think to yourself- "Liar! It's going so slowly. I've been up for hours, and I closed my eyes and it's just 20 minutes later!"

     But guess what-- it goes by SO fast!

     Here's a set of photos one per year, showing him growing up:  The photos are not quite random, but aren't any one day, or one mood. We have so many photos of him, and he has so many moods.


    2009




    2010






    2011







    2012


    2013

    2014


    2015

    2016

    2017

    This is the latest video of him, blowing out his ninth birthday cake candles, while his cousin raps Hamilton in the background.

    When I blink again, he's going to be graduating college!