Thursday, May 21, 2015

TBT: Engagement

It was my anniversary last weekend; well, mine and Hubs'. Six years and counting. So I thought I'd share this blast from the past that feels like both yesterday and a lifetime ago.

At our wedding reception, we featured a framed cartoon (drawn old-school, with a felt pen and markers on real paper) featuring the story of our engagement. Yes, we even had a cartoon at our wedding. Hubs was familiar with having a starring role in my work by then.

We'd been an item for a year at that point and were spending the weekend at a gorgeous spot in Wakefield, Quebec. Hubs suggested that, since dinner wasn't for a while yet, we should go check out the falls and take pictures.

Lovely idea, I thought. Let me get my camera (back when we took a separate camera)! Of course, I get there and am all overcome by the majesty and get in full-on picture-taking mode. Go figure. But Hubs had other plans and I was not making it easy.

What I MEANT by "are you serious?" was "is this wonderful moment really happening right now? Am I really seeing what I think I'm seeing?" not like, "ugh, seriously?" but he likes to give me a ribbing about it, retelling it like I practically booted him over the falls. But, I mean, it DID kind of come out of nowhere, like "hey, that sure is a lot of water-POW! RING IN YOUR FACE".

It was very sweet though. Ironically, I didn't think to get a picture of us then.

So anyway, there you have it. I ended up finding a bit of cartoon material there, too, even in one of my best memories.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Michel Lauzière at the Children's Festival

Earlier in the Spring, I was contacted by the Ottawa International Children's Festival and invited to take my family to a show of our choice in exchange for cartooning about our experience. How's that for an awesome deal? I was honoured and psyched all at once.

In case you aren't familiar with it (and I wasn't, before this year), The Children's Festival is a yearly outdoor celebration of "the best in live performing arts for children," featuring world-class performers as well as a variety of on-site activities for kids and families. Man, Ottawa's such a great city for raising kids, isn't it?

We went early in the day so we could check out the goings-on around the grounds before the show. I was most excited to see the Luminarium (an inflated world of light and colour!) and the Instrument Petting Zoo. I'm all about any exposure the boys can get to musical instruments. I took mental notes for activities I know the Brobeans will appreciate when they're older, too.  

When picking a show, it wasn't easy to decide which performance would be best to see with my two boys under 5. There were many options suitable for younger kids, including theatre and acrobatics combined with live music. Luckily, the festival's website included videos for many of the performers, so we could get a sense of what they would be like. I wanted a show with lots of visuals for the kids (and for cartoon material, natch). In the end, we decided on Michel Lauzière, the Master of Unusual Comedy. *I* was excited to see it. Never mind the kids.

We were one of the first in the circus tent, which meant we got some nice third-row-centre seats on the bleachers. Great seats for viewing, not-so-great seats for getting out of there if one of the kids doesn't make it, we realized as the venue filled to capacity. Uh oh. Before the show, they were starting to get restless:

This wasn't looking good. (what is it with this kid losing footwear out in public?). 

But, once Mr. Lauzière came onstage and showed us his Dishophone-- a big rack full of various mugs, plates and bowls-- and started playing a tune on it with a wooden spoon, the kids perked up like meerkats. 

What a great show! Lauzière has performed all over the world, in many languages at that, and is truly a world-class performer. Not only is he engaging with the kids, he's an incredibly talented inventor, musician and comedian.

Lauzière has MacGyvered crazy instruments out of household items, and he plays them-- and not like the lame-o coffee-can drums or shakers I've made at home. Better than that. He wears his instruments. He plays them by shooting them with water pistols, by blowing plastic darts through a tube or by just moving around with flair.

I tell you, you haven't lived until you've heard the Peter Gunn theme played with a turkey baster, plastic spoons, and a peanut butter jar being beaten by a shoelace on a rotating machine (aptly named the "toc-toc", if I recall). 

Click to Enlarge

The show was almost an hour long, and though my kids were up and down at times in their seats (sorry, kid in front of us, that my toddler kept attempting to rub your head) they were captivated nearly the whole time, which says a lot for 2- and 4- year-olds.

In fact, all the kids (and adults) in the audience were laughing, clapping along and interacting with Mr. Lauzière right up to the finale. I was hoping he would bring out the suit of horns I'd seen in the videos (AKA the Hornophone), and I wasn't disappointed. I'd see this show without kids. 

As an aside, I'd like to apologize to Mr. Lauzière: remember that toddler that briefly burst into tears during your 12 p.m. Tuesday show when you took out your broom-and-ketchup-bottle instrument? Yeah. That was mine. He'd gotten his leg stuck somehow when I was too busy being enthralled by the performance. It wasn't about the music, I swear. 

When we got home, Big Bro was all inspired musically. He treated his parents to his own one-man music show, complete with myriad shakers and bells and TWO (count 'em) kazoos.

It was... um... also good. I think I got a nosebleed.

Afterward, I encouraged him for some reason by taping a bunch of the instruments to his arms and legs, so we had our own little Master of Unusual Comedy in our living room. It was unusual, alright. If you saw a kid out on a balance bike Tuesday night with maracas and a tambourine masking-taped to his leg, that was also mine, and it was homage to the memorable performance of Michel Lauzière.