Penn Theatre Camp, Relatives, The Wackness.

Posted in Personal on July 13th, 2008 by byronkho

SONGS: Whoa Oh! by Forever The Sickest Kids, Wake Up by Story of the Year, Dead! by My Chemical Romance, Runnin Wild by Airbourne, Pop Culture by Creature, Death by Disco by Zebrahead, Addicted by Saving Abel, All Around Me by Flyleaf, All I Have by the Rocket Summer, Misery Business by Paramore, Don’t Let Your Man Know by Graham Coxon, Bad Girlfriend by Theory of a Deadman, Inside the Fire by Disturbed, Falling Down by Atreyu, (second song on their EP) by Good with Grenades, Wonderful by Grace, I’m Gone, I’m Going by Lesley Roy and finally, Knights of Cydonia by Muse.

A busy week. Monday: went to New York. Early morning trip on the Bolt Bus (part of Greyhound, as it turns out) to Manhattan… pretty convenient that it stops at 34th and 8th. Had lunch at Le Bernardin’s, took a short afternoon nap at the hotel, took a turn around Union Square to go book hunting. Saw a few people, went for dinner at JoJo’s. Both restaurants were pretty amazing. Great food… just a little too much though. By the time it was time for Spring Awakening, I was rolling along the street.

Music was good but story-wise, that musical just don’t cut it for me. I found myself pretty bored. I could see what they were trying to do, but parts came up too suddenly and without any buildup. Like the girl being abused by her father, and singing a heartbreaking song about it. Felt like they just plopped it in there for some cheap melodrama. Granted, if it really did happen, it’s a tragedy and definitely not cheap – but just to liven up an act, eh.

The Wackness was great. I lived through that era, and though I didn’t listen to some of the music until much after, I knew a bunch of people that had that vibe and man, I had some crazy nostalgia for old times. Am I being a poser? Yes, since I live (and still d0) the “what up, yo”’s just like wankstas and chiggas do the East Coast rap thing now. But oh well. No weirdness with the Mary Kate and Sir Kingsley schnozz, and Olivia Thirlby was a heartbreaker. I wish I had as awesome a parting line as whatshisface did, but some things are beyond the average person. I don’t have a screenwriter typing out my words for me. And I’d never be able to pay my psychologist with a couple dimebags.

Saw two sets of relatives I never knew I had this week. Up first, some second cousins from my dad’s side, along with their mom (I don’t know how to call that relationship… stupid huge family trees) and dad. They’re in from Holland and I really feel like they had a good time seeing new things. Tourists with wonder, rather than the usual spoiled and/or jaded relatives I have who’ve done way more traveling than some of us by virtue of being (ahem) loaded :) Also great to talk to.

I learned a few things which may or may not be wrong, but here goes. Middle class Dutchmen don’t do the sit-down restaurant thing very often, since they have less disposable income and those kinds of places are hella expensive. While we’d pay $20-30 for a nice sit down meal here in the States, they’re paying roughly that for a hamburger and fries. 17 euros for one of those, or $25 US. Ouch. They are way more likely to hit up outdoor cafes. Makes me really value the ease at which I can go to nice places and not wince at ordering a swanky meal. I also learned about the 4 types of high schools in the Netherlands. There’s the 2 high schools that prepare you for college, one for the Arts and one for Sciences. Then, the other two are for preparing to go to a technical college, and for those who are stopping school right after they graduate. For such a small population, seems like a waste of resources to support 4 different systems within the public school umbrella. But that’s their choice.

We had some other relatives from my mom’s side visiting as well. They’re from Hong Kong, and apparently live on some island 30 minutes out from Hong Kong where lots of expats live. Kind of like a Martha’s Vineyard deal. The kids are in town for a gamers camp at Villanova, one on designing games and the other on playing games. What 12 year old Asian kid would pass up on game camp. It’s every awkward nerd’s wet dream. They visited my house and played a LOT of video games. They seem to have a lot more in the way of technology than I did growing up, and I only hope they don’t get too spoiled by it. That’s the good part about growing up in a strict household; I can now moan (like an old man) about kids these days and not knowing the value of hard work.

I started up a new gig this week as the music person for a Penn summer theatre camp for high school students. This class seems a little unfocused and not too disciplined (not surprising for a bunch of 14-16 year olds thrown into a big city and on their own for probably the first time… I remember my time at PGSIT). There’s only a rare few of them that are actual singers, so these 4 weeks are going to be, er, long. I can already tell who’s gonna be who. There are the wallflowers whose parents are more or less pushing this on them. There are the cool divas who think doing theatre is a cool thing, even if they don’t actually try at it. There are the theatre geeks who can’t do anything but know everything there is know about theatre. And then there are the precious few who have some talent, a lot of room to grow, and a willingness to work. Having directed a lot of shows and worked with singers both humble and snotty, I have come to appreciate these people. They may blend into the background and be unspectacular to start out, but they often turn out to be the best of the best. I hope so, anyway.

While I’m supposed to train them musically at some point, I find myself doing a lot of nothing while the main teacher, a perfomer at the Walnut Street Theatre, does a lot of talking and perhaps not enough letting the students do something. This coming week, I’m going to find myself more to do by taking some time with some of these performers. I feel the students should learn the music and then work on the sentiment behind the words… but he seems to be taking it opposite. Hopefully we can work some of this out.

I was on the train and I met this cute chick going for classes at Thompson Institute. Having finished half the program in my CNA days, I had a lot to talk to her about. She looked 17-18ish… but apparently she was 20 something and had 2 kids already. I was like wow, yikes. She did look like a hella fun South Philly homegirl, but there she went out the door at 30th St. Station and I don’t really expect to see her again.

This weekend, I’m going up to see Brenna and go to the Pitchfork Music Festival. A lot of indie artists and coolness. I’ll also pop by to see Louisa. I have no idea what my schedule is gonna be, so I’m going to work that out this week with her, if we don’t keep missing each other on the phone calls.