Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Least Favorite Holiday

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I still remember the relief, in 6th grade, when I realized that I was no longer required to dress up for school or make the neighborhood rounds or otherwise participate in the "festivities".
I had this kid, though. Halloween was fun when she was little, mostly because she was just so damned cute and because she delights in everything. And sitting up late at night sewing star-spangled capes or searching stores for components of a costume she'd conceived in her mind and drawn for me became kind of fun. And she didn't have that moment of relief in sixth grade; she's 15 now and the whole Halloween season still delights her.
Which is how things like this happen to me and to Jake. And, somehow, turn out to be more fun than I remember or anticipated (though of course that's easy for me to say, since no one pulled my ears through little slits in my hat for the occasion. It's possible that Jake feels differently.)

It turns out, too, that there's more to Halloween than dressing funny and paying too much for candy that you can pass out to other people instead of eating it and then go around and try to gather up candy from other people to eat since you gave all yours away to strangers.

Pumpkin seeds, for example. I learned this year that you not only can but should eat them raw, which was a big bonus for me because I've never had much patience with that whole "let them dry overnight" thing. And having them available immediately provides a great diversion from the candy I'm supposed to be handing out to other people.

But it's not all about food. There are also corn mazes. I'm not sure why corn mazes are Halloween-specific: now that I've discovered them I'd like to go all the time and can't quite work out whether they're seasonal because they look Halloween-ish, because they're often haunted, or because that's when the corn is at the right point in its life cycle to form a maze instead of, say, dinner.

This year, we went to the Jonamac Orchard corn maze in Malta, and it was great--wide, clear paths, intricate pattern, and some fun checkpoints along the way where you could get a hint if you answered a question correctly or didn't mind singing Old McDonald's farm while pointing back and forth and counting in the middle of a cornfield.

At one point, we found ourselves alone in a clearing, surrounded by corn and bright blue fall skies, and Tori said there was only one thing to do in a circumstance like that. This isn't what I was expecting:

Then, of course, we headed out to teach neighborhood children to take candy from strangers. We'd spent Saturday morning creating this nice place to sit and hand out candy, and although it was a little chilly we weren't facing anything like the snow and slush my eastern friends were reporting.

After dancing around a bit, Tori announced that she was going to be a gypsy permanently. It's always risky letting her try something new.

Then, of course, we made our traditional holiday pizza and watched Scream 4.

Being a parent is educational in a lot of ways. You learn patience; you learn to go without sleep; you learn to smile even when you're stretched so thin that you're pretty sure you're going to snap; you learn to say "It's okay," in a soothing tone and not flinch when someone throws up in your hair...but I'm coming to believe that the most important thing we learn from our kids is how to see the world. In this case, that nearly anything is worth celebrating.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Career as a Reluctant Unpaid Extra

If we're friends on Facebook, then you know that my status right now is:

This may be the only chance I ever have to make a statement like this: I've left the kids in the street and gone to the bar.

The reason I ditched the kids (just one of mine, and a friend of hers) in the street and went into a bar was that they'd committed to hanging out on the corner hoping to catch a glimpse of Zac Efron long as it took. I stuck it out for three hours before walking the half-block to a local bar/restaurant where I often have dinner when Tori is out with friends. I drank coffee and ate cheese garlic bread and chatted with the regulars and the bartender about what a long night it was going to be.

My daughter and her friend were herded off the street onto the lawn of a nearby building, from which they couldn't see a darned thing. I watched Zac Efron shoot about a hundred and seventy-five takes of the same scene while the girls huddled around the corner and wondered whether they were ever going to see him...and then a DA pulled me out of the bar and asked me to be an extra.

Fortunately, in the exact moment that I was stepping out onto the street, the girls showed up at the back door of the bar (a family-owned pub attached to a restaurant) and asked for me, and so ended up watching the final takes of the movie from a perfect vantage point directly across the street from Efron while I stood and chatted silently with a couple of other extras and the owner of the bar.

Yes, chatted silently. Turns out all those people you see talking and laughing in the background on the street aren't making any sound. It's kind of tough to do. Fortunately, they only shot "my" scene four times.

The crazy thing is, this is the second time this has happened to me in the past 90 days. My kid's interest in the film industry isn't playing out exactly the way either of us intended.

See that silver car in the background? Zac Efron was totally in that car. We saw him. And they let Sydney touch it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tori's Famous!

Okay, big exaggeration (from me...imagine that).

But the Motivational Growth website launched tonight, and her picture is on the front page.

It's been quite a while since I talked about the filming, though I'm told that it hasn't been all that long at all in film years. This project has been a real education for me in terms of what goes on behind the scenes in between filming and release, and it boggles my mind that movies get made at all.

Tori's part in this one is small, but it's been getting some good advance press from star Jeffrey Combs (of Star Trek fame) and could easily become a cult classic with a certain audience. I'll readily admit that I'm not that audience: too much blood, vomit and weirdness for my personal tastes. But I walked out after viewing the rough cut asking questions, and that's usually the sign of a movie that people will watch and re-watch.

Can't wait to see what happens with it. We've met some great people in the process and the talent is first-rate all around.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

You CAN Go Home Again

Last night, aptly enough, was the Homecoming dance in Rochelle. The last time Tori went to school and participated in school activities here was in the third grade. Though she's been taking one class at the high school since late August, this weekend she re-entered the social scene in her hometown and, somewhat to my surprise, she picked up without a hitch.