Rabid goats and rabid fans in June

The performances were good, but the storybook is still very thin.

There’s only three of us, but we calendar a LOT these days so that we don’t inadvertently book a couple items on the same day. These all happened in June.

ITEM: The Wife and I saw, at the local Steamer Number 10 theater, Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, an “unauthorized parody” written by Bert V. Royal. The “play imagines characters from the popular comic strip Peanuts as degenerate teenagers.”

It starts when “CB and CB’s sister have a funeral for their dog, who recently contracted rabies and was put down after killing ‘a little yellow bird’.” This is NOT children’s fare.

It was very good, but obviously very dark. I would like to believe that the homophobia displayed by Matt, a manifestation of Pig Pen, would not be as virulent in 2017 as it was when the play was first performed in 2004, but maybe it is.

Here’s the script.

ITEM: Friends of ours gave us tickets to the Albany Symphony Orchestra, which is a very fine symphony indeed. This program was held at the EMPAC, a fascinatingly cool structure.

The logistical issue was the birthday party to which the Daughter was invited late in the afternoon, but that ended up working out well. She stayed at the party long enough that she was home alone only about an hour. In large part, that was aided by the ASO decided NOT to perform the first piece on the program because ot wasn’t ready, the first time that’s happened when we’ve attended. But the other four pieces were quite enough.

ITEM: The three of us saw the last performance of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Mac-Hadyn Theater. All I know of this musical is the LP I owned, barely 30 minutes. This is expanded by at least three songs. The performances were good, but the storybook is still very thin.

ITEM: Another trip to Mac-Hadyn a couple weeks later to see Anything Goes. The first time I had seen it was a couple years ago at Catskill High School. I continue to marvel how well the choreographer coordinate people coming off and on this tiny stage.

ITEM: I’ve mentioned our church’s relationship with Giffen Elementary School, with with the Book and Author event the past five years, and tutoring for even longer. We went to the grand opening of Wizard’s Wardrobe, “a non-profit organization providing a free, after school tutoring program for elementary school students in the South End of Albany.”

So it was distressing I read that rabid goats had to be euthanized at Albany’s Radix Center. Three second-grade classes at Giffen Memorial Elementary School took field trips to the Radix Center during this time period. Yuck.

Author-Illustrator Day at Giffen

Wizard’s Wardrobe is “providing a free, after school tutoring program for elementary school students in the South End.”

My church has been involved with Giffen Memorial Elementary School in Albany for nearly a decade, primarily with tutoring. City School District of Albany families were invited to the fifth annual Author-Illustrator Day event at Giffen on Saturday, April 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., organized by the school and church. “In addition to presentations by authors and a free continental breakfast, Giffen musicians performed throughout the day,” and they were very good.

The authors and illustrators included:

Sharon Flake, award-winning author of books for children and young adults, including “The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street” and “You Don’t Even Know Me: Short Stories and Poems About Boys.”

Jerdine Nolen, award-winning author of a dozen books including “Big Jabe,” “Thunder Rose” (a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book), and “Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life” (a Bank Street Best Book of the Year), all illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

James Preller, award-winning author of more than 80 children’s books, including the Jigsaw Jones Mystery series. His other titles include “Along Came Spider” and “Ghost Cat and Other Spooky Tales.”

Cheryl Willis Hudson, award-winning author of “AFRO-BETS ABC,” “AFRO-BETS 123,” “Hands Can,” “Good Morning” and several other books for children and young adults. She also is editorial director for Just Us Books, Inc., an independent publishing company whose books feature African-American characters.

Folks from the school and the church set up Friday evening. Then there was a reception, where I got to meet the authors. On Saturday morning, the Wife, the Daughter and I picked up the food supplies. I was supposed to help set up the books. Giffen kids got some for free, and others could buy them at a discounted rate. The Green family pile was very large.

My other specific job was as assistant to an author. I had done this in previous years with Joe Bruchac, and as one of the folks helping Lesa-Cline-Ransome and James Ransome; the Ransomes came to the Friday night reception. On Saturday morning, each author is on hand to sign his or her books, and the assistant’s job is to make sure that the the book to be signed was either purchased or given away, and then to print out the name of the persons who wants the book signed.

This year, I was assigned to James Preller, the only local creator, who had also been there three or four years earlier. He was very engaging with the children. He also kept all the names on the Post-It notes, promising to use some of them in future books.

A total of 23 Giffen and 38 First Pres people helped out. The cleanup was faster than ever before, a sign of the fact that we have done this before.

The driving forces behind this activity were Deb and Eric Fagans from my church, who had also created Wizard’s Wardrobe, “providing a free, after school tutoring program for elementary school students in the South End.” For that accomplishment, they received some award at a SUSU Women’s Club dinner that Saturday night, when I’m sure they were even more tired that we were.

Photos of the t-shirt, Sharon Flake, James Preller and Deb Fagens (center) from City School District of Albany