Waiting for the Bus

For a while now I have been playing this game with my 3 children. In the morning before they go to school I have them kiss me on the left cheek. Then I turn my head, and they kiss me on the right cheek. I turn my head a third time and before they can kiss again on the left again, I quickly turn my head and I plant a kiss right on their lips. It’s fun. It makes them giggle, and I enjoy it. Now, kids are kids, and anything that can, will be turned into a game. The game here is to never get kissed on the lips.

Joey at 12 is now at an age where he wants play, but rarely does. And his signature “turn the head to the side move as he slowly approaches for the kiss” is a tough defense to crack. Rebekah and Aaron are still very much willing contestants, and this morning was no exception. Part of my morning ritual entails sitting on the couch and watching each of my children get on the bus. I plop myself on the love seat, and wait until one by one they go off the school. Aaron, the youngest, leaves last, and has started to sit with me until the very last moment. I certainly do not mind.

I started the game with him and got him the first time. He was off guard and I got him good. Yes, he laughed. Yes, he said “Darn it” (he knew he’d been had), and he quickly wanted to start again.

After a couple of rounds the game ended with Aaron kissing me on the left and then on the right cheek for about 30 straight times. He did not realize I had given up trying to kiss him on the lips and just enjoying the moment of being a Dad, and having a son who is so willing to show affection.

Aaron belted out a final “I win!” when he realized I was not going to turn my head anymore.
Which is funny, because I was thinking the same thing.


The Strategy of Basketball

I loved to play basketball when I was younger. Though I wasn’t very good at it. My size and skill earned me the nickname “handicap” but I still enjoyed to play. Some of my fondest memories growing up centered around playing pick up basketball at the Genova house—games like 2 on 2, elimination, and 21 were summer vacation standbys when the sun was out, the days were long and the cicadas were loud.

But I have come to realize I do not like the game of basketball very much anymore. At 6’4″ tall I am sure I would be a rebound threat, but now I find the game boring. My life in advertising constantly has me thinking about how strategy can help the brand of my clients. How creative that represents the products or services of brands can alter perceptions. Or at least that’s the intent. For me, basketball is flawed in its strategy. Now, I am not taking about the game itself. Certainly, there is plenty of strategy that is executed throughout the course of a game. The coach draws up the plays, the point guard executes, picks are set, shots are made and the defense adjusts. What I am talking about is the fundamental strategy of the game.

Scoring is expected, and a guarantee.

For instance, the other major sports of baseball, football, hockey and soccer all follow a different strategy. You are not expected to score. Yes, by nature of sport, I guess you could say I do expect them to score, but it’s certainly not a guarantee. So maybe it’s more about the guarantee than the expectation. One spring evening while living in Atlanta, I saw John Smotlz of the Atlanta Braves masterfully pitch around hitters in a scoreless tie. The Braves finally won that game 1-0 in the late innings. And when the Braves finally scored the crowd erupted in celebration that shook the foundation of Turner Field.

That’s excitement.

In football I’d much rather see a high scoring game, but I live in upstate NY and this is Buffalo Bills country, where scoring is certainly not a guarantee. But when the Bills do score, the freezing fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium Stadium rise to their feet and cheer as one. Playoff hockey or World Cup soccer fans understand this. When the athletes score, there’s a massive celebration. The fans jump, raise their hands, hug. The athletes jump, raise their hands, hug. Again, because while they are expected to score it’s certainly not a guarantee.

Basketball’s one exception is March Madness. College Basketball, with some minor exceptions in rule differences, is essentially the same as the NBA. However, the NCAA tournament is structured win or go home. There is tension in every game. Cinderella’s are born and rivalries renewed. Every possession could mean the difference of advancing to the next round or boarding a plane back home…. just ask Northern Iowa. And winning the tournament is no guarantee either… just ask top seed Kansas. After the NCAA crowns it’s National Champion, April comes and it’s back to boring ‘ol NBA basketball.

I used to play basketball when I was younger. And looking back on it now, I know why…making baskets for me was never a guarantee.

We’d Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover

Annie. The classic story of a little girl who grows up during the depression in an orphanage hoping one day that her parents will return to save her from the mean ol’ Miss Hannigan. But in life, it seems what you want to happen is rarely was does happen. Luckily, Annie gets acquainted with Mr. Warbux, a billionaire in need of some grounding. And the rest of course is history. I was fortunate to have designed the set and did all the artistic painting for East Ridge High School’s 2010 production of Annie. Below are a few photos from the set:

This is the Mansion.  It’s 40′ long and 12′ high.  There are five entry points, one from each wing and three staircases.  The two side staircases were existing and the large staircase in the middle was built by Paul and his crew.

I am particularly fond of the main staircase and the painted faux marble

Amber, one of the co-directors, had this neat idea to have moveable storefronts in the scene NYC.  The effect was very cool. (719 is the date of my son Aaron’s birthday.)

The 40′ city skyline is created by the negative space of the silhouettes. I painted the nighttime sky. The silhouettes do the rest.  (115, and 118 are the dates of my son Joey and daughter Rebekah birthday’s.)

The orphanage consisted of three existing flats that were repainted to look like old and dingy windows.

Hannigan has an office… it’s small, but it does have a kick ass bookshelf.

West Side Story II

Here are some photos of the final sets for the Webster Theatre Guild’s 2010 production of West Side Story. I was the set designer and artistic painter for the show. Lots of hours went into the final product but I am very happy with the results.  Many thanks to Mike Johnston and the cast and crew of WSS. Their help made it possible to complete these set pieces.    There was a nice review by Eric Rezsnyak. in City Newpaper.  You can read it here. Also, Rush Henrietta High School just used the back wall portion of the set in their production of WSS.

First up is the back wall. This was a NYC city street with two main buildings as the focal point. The stage right side was the Puerto Rico side and the stage left was the American side. Joined together by the neutral alleyway complete with strings of “white flag” laundry.

The Dress Shop was part of a two sided set piece that consisted of 2 rolling 4’x8′ platforms. One side was the Dress Shop, the other, Doc’s Drugstore.

This side was Doc’s Drugstore.

Photo credit for the below photo of Doc’s: Stacie Schroeder


This the Cellar of Doc’s

The Rumble under the stage lights. 40′ long by 12′ high.

Maria’s Bedroom.  24′ long x 8′ high.