Thu, 28 June 2007
"The Three Wishes", a European tale that comes to us by way of The Brothers Grimm, is one of many stories dealing with the well-known motif of wishes coming true -- including "Aladdin", for instance. In this example, a rash and foolish waste of opportunities leads to regretful results in the end. (It reminds us of people who win the lottery but end up broke.) But in the process, we learn about a comical usage for a string of sausages.
We discuss two places that demonstrate how wishes can come true, especially for smaller children: the Children's Museum of Indianapolis and COSI, the science museum in Columbus, Ohio. We drove through both of these cities this past week on our way to Pennsylvania, and we've spent a good many hours in both museums, particularly when Zephyr was younger.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a four-floor affair, and has been called the largest children's museum in the world. Every Halloween, the museum mounts an imaginative haunted house, built around a different theme every year. This is where Zephyr got bitten by the haunted house bug (or was it a vampire?) at age 9.
COSI, on the site of the old Columbus High School (the front facade of which is still preserved) is one of the biggest and best science museums in the country. But we liked it even better back when it featured "Adventure into the Unknown", the archeology-inspired (think Indiana Jones) interactive exhibit that sent kids and kids at heart scampering to uncover clues, solve riddles, and find the ultimate treasure -- which turned out to be some very useful advice on the art of problem-solving. It was all done in a very detailed, moodily lighted, inspiring atmosphere. Oh, why are we telling you all this when you can't go attend it anymore? Well, maybe you could pressure the museum to bring it back.
And this, by the way, is our 50th podcast! Phew!
Dennis (axe swinger), Kimberly (sausage woman) and Zephyr (Narrator, elf) Goza
P.S. We recommend another podcast favorite of ours "123 Listen to Me" produced by family from South Africa.
Mon, 25 June 2007
This week we saw a sneak peek for a film that we just had to talk about.
"Sicko" by Michael Moore opens nationwide June 29th.
We hope you enjoy our review. Please check back on Thursday for the regular episodes of Activated Stories.
D, K and Z Goza
Thu, 21 June 2007
He thought he was the cock of the walk, but this overly vain fowl cries foul when he truly turns vane--i.e. becomes a weathervane. It's "Half-A-Chick", the curious Portuguese fable about the consequences of arrogance. One of the curious things about this story is that the main character is an oddball. Okay, nothing unusual about that; plenty of stories have leading characters who are misfits. (Cinderella, The Ugly Duckling, Harry Potter, etc. etc.) But you'll notice that such characters almost always turn out to be noble and virtuous despite the way other people ridicule and mistreat them. In this case, just the opposite happens -- Half-A-Chick has a double-sized ego, and meets his downfall because of it.
This week, we come to you from the heart of the bustling resort town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Technically, it's called Hot Springs National Park -- the entire city of 35,000 residents plus hordes of tourists is a national park!) We recorded next to the Visitors' Center, beside one of the many fountains where you can fill up jugs with 143 degree mineral water that's been brewing for 4000 years before spouting from the 47 springs around here. We were right there on "Bathhouse Row" which at one time sported several trendy bath houses and health spas that were frequented by such notable visitors as Al Capone. Today, these structures are preserved as historic buildings, but only one remains in operation as a bath house-- although other bath houses can be found at some of the hotels in town. We mourn the Libbey Memorial Physical Club, the truly unique establishment we luxuriated in on out last trip here. Nothing else like it in Hot Springs or anywhere. (Read about our previous visit to the Bath House)
At our performance at the Garland County Library, we met another boy named Zephyr! Moreover, his parents are performers too. That night, we watched their hilarious oom-pah rendition of various American pop songs and originals at the Brauhaus German restaurant. Zach and Cheryl, who moved here from Seattle, call themselves The Itinerant Locals, and they have quite a memorable sound!
After Hot Springs, we wrapped up our tour of Arkansas with an experience that can be duplicated nownere else in the world: we went digging for diamonds in the diamond fields near Murfreesboro. We didn't find any of the precious gems (an average of about 2 per day are found there - infact a big one was found by a 13 year old not too long ago) but we had a great time playing in the mud!
Dennis (the Spark), Kimberly (the Water) and Zephyr (Half-A-Chick) Goza
Thu, 14 June 2007
Row, row, row, your boat... well actually we were paddling canoes and kayaks, but we did go gently downstream for the most part--except for Zephyr, who had a kayak crackup. We were canoeing on the beautiful Buffalo River in northern Arkansas, with vessels and gear provided by Dillard's Ozark Outfitters, a family operation near the town of Yellville, where we opened our summer season.
The Dillard Family is quite a presence in this region, and the Dillard name crops up everywhere. And it's been that way at least since the 1920's, when two Dillard Brothers opened up the now-defunct Dillard's Ferry, the site of which was the endpoint of our excursion. It was a 10.5 mile jaunt, which took us about 5 hours, a gallon of water and several ounces of sunscreen. And we figured 5 hours was just barely enough to get into the "zen" of the experience. How we envied the scout troop we encountered who were spending an entire week on the river!
Our story this week is "The Greedy Brothers" from India, a fable about family relations and the wisdom of fathers - just in time for Father's Day!
Dennis (Father), Kimberly (brother) and Zephyr (Napoleon Dynamite brother) Goza
Thu, 7 June 2007
In the spirit of family businesses, which we have been celebrating lately (and one of which we've been operating for years) we present some family monkey business: "The Three Brothers", a nonsense tale from Italy. If you look really hard for the point of this story, then you're really missing the point of this story. Celebrity voices have been impersonated, though not necessarily imitated.
The Dutton Family
One family business we encountered this week was the Dutton Family operation in Branson, MO. When you think Branson, you probably think country music, and if so you'd be partially correct, but certainly not entirely. There are plenty of hillbilly song and comedy revues in town, but there are also many other types of entertainment as well. This little city of about 6000 people also features a Ripley's museum (What tourist town doesn't?) and an extensive exhibit of Titanic artifacts housed in their own building-- a reduced scale, half-segment ship-shaped (and presumably ship-shape) building colliding with an ersatz iceberg. There's a troupe of Chinese acrobats appearing in town, and at the Dutton show we attended, there was a preview of a Samoan fire-dancing performance.
Even the musical acts themselves are richly varied. There's a rock'n'roll revue, a Beatles tribute, and one of the countless knock-offs of "Riverdance". Many famous singers have opened their own theatres here, including Bobby Vinton (Oh, how Kimberly's late grandma adored Bobby, a fellow Pole) and Andy Williams -- yep, he's still kicking, and his Moon River Theatre, it appears, is still full and flowing.
Which brings us back to the Duttons. We went to their show expecting essentially bluegrass or something along those lines, but we were very pleasantly surprised. There was some country music, of course (it's hard to leave it out in Branson) but the songs they performed were classics like "Wabash Cannonball", rather than the over-commercialized ear candy that often passes for country these days. We were also delighted by their rendition of the tongue-twisting Hank Snow staple "I've Been Everywhere", which very well could be our theme song. But the program also included classical music (which actually is what they cut their teeth on), pop, ethnic, a touching tribute to veterans, and even Broadway, including a suite from "Mary Poppins" with rather elaborate set and costumes. Toss in some jaw-dropping razzle-dazzle musicianship (it seems to be in their genes to be able to play just about any instrument behind their backs) and some side-splitting humor, and you have a show guaranteed to please even Oscar the Grouch.
And the theatre isn't the only thing the Duttons (all three generations of them) have going for themselves; their inn is right behind the theatre, and their cafe is right next door. Oh yes, and if you appreciate homemade fudge, you've found paradise.
Dennis (Larry), Kimberly (Curly) and Zephyr (Moe)