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.

 
 
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?            
 

For Dad

06/16/2013

72 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.