We’ve got a lot in store for you during our book launch and author signing event coming up in July.  Why come?  Here are five good reasons.

The Biscuit Brothers are Coming!


Chungaboo is very excited to have the Biscuit Brothers performing for us.  Headed by Buford and Dusty, “the Biscuit Brothers” is the name of a musical duo and entertainment troupe with an Austin-original, Emmy-award winning television program that has been airing since 2004, featuring both puppets and people in the style of Sesame Street.  Unlike the famous street, however, the Biscuit Brothers are based around a farmer theme and practice what they call “agri-tainment” with a musical focus.  Their show features singing, musical instruments, animated farm animals, and silly educational shorts with an upbeat and playful tone, introducing funny versions of classical scores, teaching about musical notes and instruments, and encouraging kids’ creativity.  Expect some jolly men in overalls doing an interactive number asking the kids to dance and join in.


Lots of Fun Songs

In addition to the Biscuit Brothers, you’ll also be able to see outstanding children’s singers Joe McDermott and Staci Gray.  A self-professed “big ham”, Staci Gray began her foray into children’s entertainment by hosting the weekly storytimes at BookPeople.  Later she started singing backup for Joe McDermott, eventually moving on to do her own performances, and her career blossomed from there.

A UT graduate and founder of the The Phoenix School, Joe McDermott has twice received the Parent’s Choice Silver Honor Award for his albums of children’s music, and he has collaborated with Stan and Jan Berenstain, authors of the Berenstain Bears, to adapt some of their books into song.  “Joe McDermott is not only a magnificent songwriter,” Stan Berenstain remarked, “he’s also an absolute wizard at communicating with children through music”.  Which is to say, he’s quite goofy!


Lots to See

Between the main acts, you might visit the booths of some of our affiliates, such as the Mariposas Spanish School, which offers extracurricular classes and summer camps for teaching Spanish to kids.  Custom-tailored to each child’s needs, they’ve built their programs on a time-tested curriculum drawn from methods like Total Physical Response, the Natural Approach, the Montessori Method, Sign Language, and the Seven Intelligences.

You’ll also be able to visit booths for One World Soccer, a club which provides soccer coaching and camps for kids, teaching playing skills as well as life skills, and All Things Kids, a toy store located in Georgetown, Texas.  In addition to unique toys like robotics kits and marble runs, All Things Kids also carries books (print copies of Chungaboo books will be available there soon!) and a candy corner stocked with old favorites like rock candy and jelly beans.  They too offer summer camps, as well as a “play zone” area for childcare.  Like Chungaboo’s, their goals emphasize educating children and growing their creativity.

Plus, Austin Bat Cave has recently agreed to host a booth as well, where they'll be selling anthologies and allowing sign-ups for new volunteers.  Supplementing the learning done in school, ABC is a nonprofit organization supporting education and the arts by hosting writing and tutoring programs for Austin youth, free of charge.  Gathering volunteers from the community, they help students hone their reading and writing skills to facilitate further learning.

Between the main acts, you can also catch a short show by the Violet Crown Collective aerial performers, a flexible group of entertainers who take incredible poses as they suspend themselves in the air.


Lots to Do

In the morning, Little Turtle Yoga will be hosting a short yoga session that’s appropriate for the little ones.  Run by a mother of two, Little Turtle Yoga teaches physical skills like flexibility and coordination as well as the mental benefits of concentration and confidence.

With everything that’ll be going on, don’t forget to go see Jasper and Costello.  Jasper’s a quick-fingered balloon artist who goes beyond basic rabbits and dogs to make lots of fun and complicated shapes (check 'em out here!), and Sparkles the clown will be doing face painting, too, so your kids can be all dressed up for the occasion.


It’s FREE!

This event doesn't cost a dime.  If you like, it’s suggested that you bring a children’s book to donate, as we’ll be taking up a collection for the Half Pint Library of Dell Children's Hospital, but the official admission is free.  Bring all your young ones along and come see us at Central Market on July 13th, 9:15am—1:00pm.

 
 
Want to know a little more about the people behind the scenes? Here are some fun facts about our summer intern team. 

Fun fact # 1 – They are all students at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas!

Rebekah Newman
Major: Psychology/English
Classification: Junior
Email: rebekah@chungaboo.com
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My favorite bands are – Silversun Pickups, Death Cab for Cutie, and Jukebox the Ghost.
My favorite movies are – An Education, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and everything Disney!
My favorite book as a child was – From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg.
The coolest trip I’ve ever taken was – a two week trip to London and the Scottish Highlands.
My ideal friday night – is spent with macaroni and cheese and Netflix documentaries.
My other interests are – video content creation and fantasy novels.
I’m excited about this internship because – I’ll get to do what I’m passionate about: promote literacy!
My dream is to – be a YA fiction editor.





Erin Weber
Major: Music/Instrumental Performance
Classification: Graduated! Class of 2013
Email: erin@chungaboo.com
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My favorite bands are – Queen and Igudesman and Joo. 
My favorite movies are – made by Pixar, also I love the Princess Bride.
My favorite book as a child was – Kirby Kelvin and the Not Laughing Lessons, or There’s a Nightmare in My Closet, or Ferdinand the Bull.
The coolest trip I’ve ever taken was – to Austria.
My ideal Friday night is – spending time with friends, or taking time to craft, draw or paint for fun. 
My other interests are – Classical music (violin, piano, voice) and swimming.
I’m excited about this internship because – I love children’s books and will have the opportunity for further experience in graphic design and original content creation.
My dream is to – work in a creative field.





Aimee Slagle
Major: Psychology/Sociology
Classification: Sophomore
Email: aimee@chungaboo.com
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My favorite bands are – Vampire Weekend and Marina and the Diamonds.
My favorite movies are – Gone with the Wind and any Disney movie. 
My favorite book as a child was – Peach and Blue by Sarah Kilborne with illustrations by Steve Johnson.
The coolest trip I’ve ever taken was – to visit my older sister in California in the Long Beach/Huntington area.
My ideal Friday night is – movies and frozen yogurt with friends.
My other interests are – outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, biking, running, and camping. I also really appreciate acting and dancing.
I’m excited about this internship because – I think it is important that education is adapted to technology from the 21st century.
My dream is to – Travel all over the world and learn new and interesting perspectives.





Helene Thompson

Major: Communications
Classification: Junior
Email: helene@chungaboo.com
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My favorite bands are – Man Man, Paul Simon, Sarah Jarosz, and Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire.
My favorite movies are – Galaxy Quest, The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, and Holes.
My favorite book as a child was – The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams.
The coolest trip I’ve taken was – to Shumla School, a little research site in the West Texas Desert.
My ideal Friday night is – re-watching old episodes of Avatar: the Last Airbender with my friends while eating pizza and giving a running commentary.
My other interests are – Horseback riding and economics.
I’m excited about this internship because – I love editing, writing, and all kinds of work with written words. I'm ecstatic to be working with a real publishing company.
My dream is to – become a professional editor and collaborate with the authors whose books end up at Barnes & Noble.





Leslie Ramey
Major: Business and Economics
Minor: English
Classification: Senior
Email: leslie@chungaboo.com
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My favorite bands are – The Black Keys, Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver, Zac Brown Band, Josh Turner, Incubus, Escondido, The XX.
My favorite movies are – Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Elizabethtown, and Pride and Prejudice.
My favorite book as a child was – It’s hard to choose just one, but I would have to say The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The coolest trip I’ve taken is – Four months spent studying abroad in London.
My ideal Friday night is – Spent in the company of friends, whether we’re going dancing or just watching a movie.
My other interests are – Blogging, photography, painting, yoga, reading, and traveling.
I’m excited about this internship because – I know I will be working with a lot of great people, and I can’t wait to start seeing the results of our work.
My dream is to – One day write a novel.





Christine Rhyne
Major: English/Communications
Classification: Senior
Email: christine@chungaboo.com
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My favorite bands are – The Neighbourhood, As Tall As Lions, MGMT, Muse, Strokes, Phoenix, Cold War Kids, Capital Cities, and Twenty One Pilots.
My favorite movies are – Underworld, Serendipity, Clue, The Terminal, This Is The End, Star Trek, Mona Lisa Smile, and The Painted Veil.
My favorite book as a child was – Corduroy by Don Freeman, The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister, and really I loved anything that had dinosaurs in them!
The coolest trip I’ve taken is – Hawaii
My ideal Friday night is – Hanging out with my friends, or spending time with the b/f.
My other interests are – Photography, painting, reading, drawing, and playing video games.
I’m excited about this internship because – I want to be in this line of work after I graduate, so gaining this knowledge and praxis will be super beneficial.
My dream is to – Travel, be financially secure, and find what true happiness means.





James Frierson
Major: English
Classification: Senior
Email: james@chungaboo.com
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My favorite bands are – Coldplay, Gorillaz, Iron and Wine, Fleet Foxes, and Jack Johnson
My favorite movies are – It’s a Wonderful Life, A.I., Good Will Hunting, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Castle in the Sky.
My favorite book as a child was – Frederick by Leo Lionni
The coolest trip I’ve taken is – Studying abroad in London, England and traveling around Europe.
My ideal Friday night is – A productive day of exercise, reading, and writing followed by a relaxing night of video games with friends.
My other interests are – Soccer, video games, piano, comic books, and anime.
I’m excited about this internship because – I want to participate in the book-making process to bring stories to the next generation.
My dream is to – See Earth from outer space.
 
 
6. The Incredibles – The Chase
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Super speed, F1 racer blade-pod-thingys, and explosions make for a heart-pumping thrill ride that illustrates how entertaining animation can be.  Growing up with James Bond films conditioned me to appreciate a good chase, and Dash’s crazed foray into the beautifully rendered jungles, cliff sides, and lagoons was not lost on the kid in me that just loves watching things blow up. 

Sorry, no liberal-arts interpretation here.  The scene is enjoyable just the way it is.


5. Toy Story – Sailing No More
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Disillusionment is earth-shattering.  When Buzz learns that he is mass-produced, unoriginal, and insignificant in the universe, he grasps at what he believes makes him special; flight.  But he is a toy; he can only fall with style.  Watching the Space Ranger’s face change to confusion, determination, and defeat is difficult. 

However, what makes this scene so memorable is the transformation Buzz undergoes to realize his purpose; Buzz is the best friend a cowboy could ask for.  That is what makes him special, not plastic wings, not a red light-bulb on his wrist, and not the decorative stickers of buttons and gauges.  Buzz is a hero because he is a friend before anything else.    


4. WALL-E – Dancing Defined
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Love is anti-gravity.  As WALL-E and EVE spiral along the hull of a starship, twirling between its fiery-purple interstellar engines, all after sharing a kiss, I’m reminded why I love outer space so much.  It’s so expansive, dark, and open to interpretation.  Two on-looking characters, John and Mary, touch hands after finding meaning in the acrobatic antics of two robots; sharing introductions and sparking a romance.  Captain McCrea finds meaning in the history of our home-planet, staying up long hours to learn things that have been lost.  WALL-E finds meaning in pleasing someone he cares about, and EVE couldn't be any happier. 

It’s simple, is what it is.  Two machines playing with a fire extinguisher in space.  The reason I love it so much is because there really isn't much more to say.    


3. Finding Nemo ­– The Whale

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If there is one thing that Marlin is desperate for, it’s agency.  He wants control over his life, over his son, and over the entire ocean blue.  Swallowed whole by the bristled mouth of a friendly beast, our little clown-fish-father-of-the-year loses all feeling of command of his circumstances.  He rams his body against the baleen barrier in futile attempts to change the unchangeable.  Marlin is trapped with Dory, the comical regal tang fish who playfully rides the ebb and flow of the whale’s movements.  

For me, this scene highlights the dichotomy that exists between our two travelers.  Marlin cannot forget the past, his wife and children, or all of his doubts about virtually anyone but himself.  Dory can hardly remember her own name, suffering from short-term memory loss, and chooses to blissfully live in the present instead of worry about the future.  When the whale instructs her to let go, she does.  Not because she knows it will be alright, but because she believes that whatever happens will work itself out.  The entire story, indeed, is a lesson on letting go. 

Let go of inhibitions, let go of fears, let go of whatever is holding you back.  Plain and simple, optimism is more enjoyable than pessimism.


Up
– A Love Story
    
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Pixar are storytelling geniuses working within time constraints.  Carl and Ellie’s married life scene, in my humble opinion, is five of the most effective minutes in movie history.  I felt like I was intruding on their happy memories.  Every snapshot of cloud gazing, house painting, and tie tying felt so inexplicably real.  The music mimics the emotions portrayed in the increasingly wrinkled faces of our explorers, as things take a turn for the complicated.  Dashing their savings jar from mishap to mishap, coming to grips with an empty nursery, and lovingly letting go.   

The dual image of Carl with his baby blue balloon, first traversing the perilous sidewalk, and then later returning from the funeral to an empty house, is powerful enough to sink anyone’s heart.  I cannot imagine a more beautifully somber opening to an animated film.  


1. Toy Story 3 ­– One More Playtime 
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Toys are heavy things.  As I write I am surrounded by relics of playtimes past: an entire fleet of LEGO star fighters, dusty wooden blocks, and a drained remote-control car.  My room contains objects of a childhood that I live every day.  Toys contain memories, sure, but they also represent emotions, milestones of uncomfortable aging, and a naïve fascination with the world that rivals any education. 

Growing up never happens when we want it to.  As fate would have it, Andy and I are the same age.  I watched this film just before moving out of home and embarking to college.  It felt so much more real after Toy Story 3.  I had grown up with Woody and Buzz, Rex and Mr. Potato Head, Jessie and Bull’s-eye, and now it was time to say goodbye. 

But the most touching part of Andy’s farewell is his commitment to retaining his childhood while passing on his toys to another more imaginative generation.  It is difficult at first, but ultimately necessary.  I know that look in Andy’s eyes as he waves goodbye before questing onward into a brand new adventure.  It is a look of sad recognition and appreciative gratitude.  Things can be rough getting older, but memories never age. 

The trilogy ends as it begins.  The camera pans skyward to a flotilla of familiar clouds.  Childhood, like everything, is cyclical.  It always comes back right when we need it most.

Now Your Turn

I have a confession, this list was supposed to include seven moments.  For the life of me, I couldn't find another scene that affected me as deeply as these six.  So I have a suggestion; on the comments below, write out what sticks out in your mind as the most iconic, moving, humorous, exciting, inimitable Pixar moment.  What are your favorites?            
 
 
Too often the phrase “family film” is applied to stories which, though they may be appropriate for all ages, are not always engrossing for all ages.  Enter Pixar, an animation studio that's renowned for creating colorful, whimsical movies that are, at the same time, sophisticated narratives of genuine art.  Widely recognized for prioritizing the quality of the story, Pixar has brought us many beautiful, dramatic, hilarious, and tragic moments over the years.  Here are just a few choice picks from the collection.

10. A Bug’s Life—Hopper’s Speech
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After the protagonist, Flik the ant, stands up to the tyrannical band of grasshoppers, some of the underlings assume that the sparks of rebellion are insignificant, but their leader Hopper doesn't see it that way.  In this scene, he argues that “just one ant” might not be a problem now, but if all the other ants start to follow Flik’s lead, the grasshoppers can be easily overthrown.  The speech is a strangely insightful look into the dynamics of oppression and power for a story about anthropomorphic bugs.  “You let one ant stand up to us, then they all might stand up,” Hopper says, after burying some grasshoppers in an avalanche of seeds to demonstrate his point.  With this chilling monologue, Hopper convinces the other grasshoppers that they must suppress the rebellion before it can begin in order to retain their control.

9. Brave—Archery Contest
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Merida’s determination, pride, and ambition are in full force in this scene.  Discovering a loophole in the contest rules, she enters herself as a representative of her own clan in the competition to claim the “right” to herself as bride, declaring, “I’ll be shooting for my own hand.” This scene is a primary example of standing up for what you want and what you believe in, even when others might be against you. She handily beats every one of the suitors competing for her hand, getting a bulls-eye on each of their targets and ripping her fancy dress in the process. The way her tight dress tears as she aims her bow is symbolic of breaking the confines of the old Scottish customs in order to do what she loves—and in this case, she’d rather beat her peers in archery than marry any of them.

8. Ratatouille—Meeting Collette

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This movie has many hilarious scenes showing the unavoidable consequences of Linguini’s plan to have Remy the rat cook in the kitchen, but there are others that shine as well.  At first, Linguini thinks he can sweet-talk the kitchen’s only female cook. However, Collette quickly cuts him off and puts him in his place.  Comically using knives to emphasize her point (no pun intended), Collette asks “How many women do you see in this kitchen?” and as Linguini stutters to come up with a quick reply, she takes control of the conversation, talking over him and demonstrating why she’s not one to be trifled with.  With the force and efficiency of a drill sergeant, she throws out orders and instructs Linguini with unflinching authority. It’s a refreshing example of a female character whose ambition and determination are not portrayed as flaws but as assets that contribute to a happy ending.

7. Finding Nemo—The Anglerfish Scene

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Although there are many cherished moments in this Pixar favorite, Dory and Marlin’s encounter with the Anglerfish in the lower depths of the deep sea is one of most well scripted scenes within the movie.  After a bumbling attempt at cheering Marlin up, Dory leads them down into the darkness and promptly forgets who he is as well as where they are, cuing Marlin to ad-lib as “her conscience” just to get her to focus on figuring out their next move.  Marlin’s dry practicality and Dory’s excitable bewilderment clash for only a moment before they both see an enchanting light… that they soon discover is connected to a horrifying anglerfish.  The ensuing scene mixes drama and comedy simultaneously as Marlin tries to avoid being eaten while Dory uses the light from the anglerfish’s stalk to read the mask.  In the last suspenseful moment, it almost seems as though the anglerfish has succeeded, until it’s finally revealed that the anglerfish has gotten caught between a rock and the mask.

6. Monsters Inc.—The Ending

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While the panicked intrusions of the Child Detection Agency scenes are funny for showing monsters afraid of children, it’s still the last few moments of the movie that stand out for being so uplifting and heartwarming in just one line and the look on the main character's face.  After believing that he’d never be able to see Boo again, Sulley learns that Mike reconstructed the door to her room for him, and the door is reactivated when Sulley puts in the last piece. When Sulley opens the door, all that can be seen is his head peeking out from the closet, looking around, and when Boo’s voice subtly calls out her nickname for him, the movie ends just as his face lights up with the most heart-lifting smile.

5. Wreck-It Ralph—Felix in Jail

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When Fix-It Felix is wrongly thrown in jail, he discovers a loose bar in his cell wall and attempts to make an escape with the help of his trusty hammer.  To his dismay, it only makes all of the bars thicker and stronger. Felix laments to no one in particular, “Why do I fix everything I touch?” Not a moment later, Wreck-It Ralph busts through the wall, easily accomplishing what Felix could not.  Felix is filled with relief to see him at first, but hastily changes his mind and refuses to give Ralph a chance to speak as he complains about his recent misfortunes, which he points out are all Ralph's fault.  “You don’t know what it’s like to be rejected and treated like a criminal!” he exclaims.  The irony in this scene is that Ralph continuously felt this exact treatment when they lived in their game, explaining why Ralph wanted to run off in the first place.

4. Toy Story—Meeting Buzz

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The arguments between Woody and Buzz are the foundation of this movie, but it’s the first encounter between them that sets the tone of their initial relationship.  Irritated by Buzz’s baseless confidence, Woody antagonizes Buzz to prove his assertion that he can to fly.  Buzz accepts this challenge and proceeds to conduct a series of acrobatic maneuvers across a landscape of toy balls and racecar tracks, finishing by propelling himself off the ceiling fan and succeeds by sheer luck.  Buzz believes he passed the test, but Woody dismisses the demonstration as “falling with style”, arc words that become an inside joke between them as they begin to cultivate a friendship.

3. The Incredibles—No Capes

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Although she only appears in a few scenes, the petite fashion designer Edna Mode steals the show with her feisty and assertive attitude.  “You can’t, it’s impossible, I’m far too busy,” Edna insists, dismissing the mere mention of redesigning Mr. Incredible’s suit, but Ms. Edna Mode is just playing coy before she jumps at the opportunity. Edna’s personality is playful, not straightforward, yet she makes it bluntly evident that she knows exactly what she wants and is not afraid to go for it.  Quite adamant about her ideas, she quickly rejects Bob’s interest in adding a cape to the design of his new suit, declaring, “No capes!” Then, in a fast-paced montage, she proceeds to satirize a staple of the genre with a list of examples of how capes have been responsible for numerous fatal accidents, and she concludes by repeating herself: no capes.

2. Wall-E—Dancing in Space

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For an environmentally-themed movie about a garbage-compacting robot, Wall-E is strangely powerful in its emphasis on bonding and relationships.  If there was ever any uncertainty, the dancing scene cements it.  After narrowly escaping destruction from an explosion, Wall-E and Eve reunite in space and share a touching moment, weaving in circles around each other to soft, jubilant music.  Their blissful display attracts the attention of some humans aboard the spaceship, breaking there mind-numbing routine long enough for them to look each other in the eye for the first time. The scene also cuts to the Captain rediscovering information about Earth through the computers’ database, fascinating him to the point of staying up past his robot-assigned bedtime to whisper, “Computer, define dancing”.  The computer’s answer is spoken over a shot of the two affectionate robots outside.

1. Up—Growing Old Together

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The brief montage at the beginning of UP sets the tone for the remainder of the movie, building sympathy for what otherwise have appeared to be only a grumpy old man. In flashbacks, it shows the history behind Carl and Ellie’s married life. With only soft music and no distinct dialogue, the series of scenes reveals their hopes, dreams, and adventures together, which are soon interrupted by challenges and disappointment, but Carl and Ellie carry on with persistence and the development of a new dream.  As time goes on, it seems like their dream has a lower and lower chance of being realized, until the heart-rending moment when Ellie passes on.

Though these are my top ten, Pixar’s work is chock full of even more outstanding and memorable moments.  What are some of your favorites?

 

For Dad

06/16/2013

69 Comments

 
‘Hero’ is a big word.  It’s galactic in size and scope.  ‘Hero’ could be a reigning lion prophesying to his son about the circle of life, or a skittish and awkward clown fish trekking across the Pacific Ocean searching for his boy who had lost his way.  ‘Hero’ can bring balance to the Force, or simply show sideline support at every soccer game.  Not every ‘Hero’ is a father, but every father can be a ‘Hero’.

Fatherhood means more than the third Sunday of June; more than warm breakfast in bed (even if that breakfast includes fluffy pancakes), a charming card filled with scribbled signatures, or a summer blockbuster movie with the family.  Jeff, one of Chungaboo’s co-founders and board members, describes fatherhood as a life lesson in what is most important: “Being a dad is always a new challenge, but at the same time it’s extremely rewarding.  There’s nothing more enjoyable than being a teacher watching your kid grow.  Not to mention my daughter is teachings me new things constantly!” Jeff also believes fatherhood is recognizing the lessons dad’s have inherited from previous generations: “Father’s Day reminds me of the special bond with my own dad, and how much I learned from him (and continue to learn)…He’s my biggest influence”.  A dad is the combination of teaching and learning, a lifelong give-and-take of knowledge and wisdom that culminates in a loving relationship benefiting the whole family through generations.     

Fatherhood is a selfless prioritization of the people that dads cherish the most in their lives; their kids.  Nick, another co-founder of Chungaboo and board member, holds fatherhood as a commitment to caring: “I just want to spend as much time as possible with my kids, enjoying memorable experiences and creating new traditions that they can pass down to their children one day.  I find myself literally obsessed with my kids and could listen to them talk about anything, and I find myself hanging on their every word.”  Being a dad is about putting your best foot forward: “They make me want to be the best possible version of myself.  They inspire me to be positive, supportive, selfless, and generous in ways that I couldn’t have imagined before having kids.”  Dads are the ones who enjoy more than anything, being a father.  It’s never easy, but is always rewarding.

Dads don’t ask for much: a kiss on the cheek, a favorable report card, a beautiful smile.  Above all, the greatest gift is the recognition that whatever he is doing works.  Passing on values and morals on all of life’s difficult dilemmas is an essential part of the job description.  A dad provides power, purpose, and self-confidence to his children.  A dad supplies the emotional infrastructure from which his children can construct their personality, their dreams, and their futures.  A dad is always there, even when he isn’t needed.  A dad always knows what to say, even when the truth is difficult to admit.  A dad will always save the day, even if no one ever knows he did.  That sounds pretty heroic to me.   
 
 
We all have a wolf suit.  It’s white, mangy, and is soaked in the amalgamation aroma of moth balls, lemon zest, and dark chocolate.  It sits in the way back, behind things of consequence.  Our wolf suit is blockaded by the measurable, calculable, and the unmistakably adult.  Your wolf suit is far too small; “No,” you say, “I cannot be asked to wear that”.  Your pale ankles and wrists peek out of the fabric.  “This wolf suit is for a child, I am not a child”, you say, “I have outgrown the wild thing I once was.”  True, you have grown, but a wild thing is ungrowable, it is inalienable, and it is indestructible.

A wild thing does not require terrible teeth, terrible eyes, and terrible claws to be wild.  A wild thing is an inimitable thing; it is a unique and enduring thing.  A wild thing can only be imagined at; a wild thing is what we tell bedtime stories about.  A wild thing is what you wish, but not what you want.  A wild thing is never there, but is always with you.  A wild thing is what never was, but will always be. 

So, where are they?  An exotic tropical island beyond a turbulent ocean populated with sea monsters and jagged rocks?  Or are they simply found on the underside of a childhood bed?  Wild things are in that special place; behind that special door that no one else can open for you.  “But wait”, you sputter from the steaming sips of your morning coffee, “what is so great about being wild, anyway?”  Being wild is being inquisitive.  To be wild is to be a skeptic who also believes in every fairytale.  “But I like who I am, I am proud of what I have achieved,” you add on your way out the door, “why would I want to change the successful person I have become?” Being wild isn’t a transformation or even a mutation; it is an augmentation, an evolution.  The wolf suit cannot move without a person inside, you have to be the person to give a wild thing life.  Be a version of yourself you have always wanted to be.

A wolf suit is a wonderful thing.  It is awesome, empowering, and invisible.  You can wear a wolf suit to work for your presentation, on your first date with someone whom you really like, or even when you’re helping your children with their homework.  Wear a wolf suit at the movie theater, in the car, at the gym, in the library, and in your imagination.  Be courageous, be daring, be bold.  A wolf suit is a wonderful thing.  Try it on, I bet it’s just your size.

Happy birthday, Maurice Sendak.  Thank you for being the wolf you wanted to be.
 
 
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World Oceans Day is today, and what better way to be ocean-conscious and celebrate the holiday than helping to protect marine wildlife?  There’s long been an association between green culture and Austin, the original home to environmentally-friendly companies like Whole Foods and Whole Earth Provisions, and we at Chungaboo hope to continue the tradition—but for today, you might want think of it not as going green, but going “blue”!  The ocean faces many dangers, and here are just a few things you can do to lend a hand.

1.      If you eat seafood, choose a sustainable source.  Catfish, crab, and halibut, for example, are good choices for people who live in Texas and the Southeast because the populations are strong and these species are usually caught or farmed ethically.  Avoid marlin, sharks, wild conches, Atlantic salmon, and red snapper because these are some of the populations that are in trouble (and some of these are also the subject of mercury concerns).

Dive Deeper:  Seafood Watch by Monterey Bay Aquarium

2.      Use less plastic.  Even if you don’t shop in Austin, remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store, and try to cut down on unnecessary waste.  The more plastic we use, the more of it finds its way to the ocean, where it poses a threat to the lives of animals like sea turtles and birds.  Plastic is one of the world’s least biodegradable materials, so replace it with glass or aluminum when you can.

Dive Deeper:  Environment Impact by Plastic Ocean

3.      When boating, diving, or visiting the beach, be responsible.   Clean up after yourself—don’t litter.  Either avoid walking on the dunes or be careful not to harm the plants that grow there, which help keep the dunes in place when they’re alive and provide fertilizer to others when they die.  Be careful where you anchor, and never touch a coral reef, which can easily kill the coral and small animals living there.

Dive Deeper:  General Resources on the Ocean Portal by the Smithsonian

4.      Buy only souvenirs that do not exploit marine resources.  Avoid shark teeth, coral jewelry (which requires a permit), and real tortoiseshell accessories, which rely on and encourage the poaching of sea turtles.  Even sharks, which may not seem very cuddly, face more dangers from us than we do from them.

Dive Deeper:  How to by Environmentally Friendly Souvenirs by the World Wildlife Fund

5.      If you’re a pet-owner, keep in mind how your choices will affect the ocean.  Never flush kitty litter, as this will introduce hazardous chemicals into our waterways.  If you have an aquarium, be very careful about how you select salt-water fish (they should be certified from the MAC).  Never release store-bought fish into the wild, as this can disrupt the natural ecosystem.

Dive Deeper:  Why you Should Never Flush Kitty Litter by the Unclog Blog

6.      Minimize fertilizers and pesticides.  These chemicals will eventually drain to the waterways in runoff from the next rain and can be toxic to many plants and fish.  For some underwater species, fertilizers do encourage growth—but at unhealthy levels, even to the point of crowding out others like coral and upsetting the precarious balance of a reef.

Dive Deeper:  How Lawn Chemicals Affect the Ocean by The Nature Conservancy

7.      Turn off lights that you’re not using.  Doing small things to reduce your carbon footprint (such as reducing the amount of electricity you use) can also help, since carbon dioxide emissions can be absorbed into the water and make the ocean more acidic.  This is a problem because fish and other organisms need the right balance of pH in their surroundings in order to live healthy lives.

Dive Deeper:  What is Ocean Acidification by the Natural Resources Defense Council

8.      Opt for electronic over paper.  Send an email rather than use snail mail, or link to a website rather than printing out a flier.  Steps like these reduce paper consumption and thus reduce the demand for paper, which is useful because deforestation has an indirect impact on our coral reefs.  When forests are destroyed, soil erodes faster and washes into the sea, causing sediment to settle on top of the coral and smother it.  The more paper you save, the fewer trees are taken down, and the less you contribute to this process.

Dive Deeper:  Deforestation Impact on Coral Reefs by Exploring the Environment

9.      Collect rainwater for your garden.  Instead of drawing water from the aquifer, you can collect the water that comes from the sky with rain barrels and other forms of irrigation.  These will reduce runoff (decreasing the impact of fertilizers and pesticides) and also has the effect of protecting the source of groundwater for all those who use it.

Dive Deeper: The Benefits or Rain Barrels by National Geographic

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10.  Learn!  One of the best ways to be equipped to help is to know and be aware of how your choices affect the well-being of other living things.  Stay educated on current problems, read and watch informational programs, and discover more about the mysterious creatures that live in the ocean.  If you haven’t yet, you might want to look into a copy of our Great Sea Adventure, available on Apple iTunes.   It's intended for elementary school children and is a great way to continue the journey.