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August Photo A Day Challenge: Tranquil

So I’m six, and my single dad loves to go running. I do not love to go running. My idea of a wonderful time involves a book and a comfortable chair, not going outside and deliberately getting out of breath while being too hot. But I’m six, so my dad can’t leave me at home while he runs in weekend races. He has to be inventive.

And it’s 1978, he is not a handyperson, he has no woodworking experience whatsoever, the internet does not exist and there are no books at the library called How To Build A Rickshaw And Bring Your Kid On The Race So No One Calls Child Protective Services. But he is extremely smart. So he sits down and designs the rickshaw himself. Two bicycle wheels, a wooden box, and a set of pipes he can hold while he runs. And then he goes to the hardware store and buys all the supplies (including a hammer) and makes the rickshaw.

Citysonnet’s photo challenge was “tranquil”, and that’s what I think of when I look at this photo. My dad is working twice as hard as everyone else in the race, he’s out of breath and sweaty, but me? I’m six years old, sitting in the back of that rickshaw like very tiny queen.

Reading a book, in a comfortable chair.

August Photo Challenge via Citysonnet.

Plundercats The Musical: True Stories Hijacked by Comedians

One of the things I love most about producing shows in Toronto is that I get to produce the shows I really really want to see. And Plundercats The Musical is DEFINITELY one of those shows.

What is Plundercats? True stories, hijacked by Toronto’s best comedians. But THIS time, the Plundercats take on Rachel Allen’s (Raw Storytelling) true story and then MAKE UP A MUSICAL ABOUT IT. And oh my god, guys, the songs these very funny people make up on the spot are tremendous. Check out this cast – featuring:

Ashley Botting
Carly Heffernan
Hayley Kellett
Rob Norman
Rob Lewin
Cameron Algie
Andrea Marston

With polymath Rory Grant on the keyboard.

Tickets: $13 ($16 at the door) – buy here

Who buys a parking garage for a kid?

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My partner Todd (Serendipity Encouraged) asked his readers: “What’s the first toy you remember loving?”

And I immediately thought of the Fisher Price Parking Ramp. It was one of the most prized toys at the Montessori after school daycare I attended in 1977, trumped only by the Fisher Price Airplane With Airport. As dumb as the toy was, I remember running to it every day, spending an embarrassing amount of time zooming the Little People up and down in the elevator, gassing up their cars, and generally ruining the environment.

Can you imagine the toy pitch meeting, circa 1970?

MR. ROBARTS
Okay! That Airplane With Airport is selling like hotcakes. What should we follow it up with?

FRANK
A firehouse. With a working fire pole that the Little People can actually slide down.

DONALD
How about a Cape Canaveral rocket? With astronaut Little People!

MR. ROBARTS
That’s… fine, I guess. [sighs] But just not exciting enough, men.

GARY
[leans back in chair, lights a cigarette] I got it, Mr. Robarts. I know what our next top seller is.

MR. ROBARTS
We’re all ears. You gave us Middle Manager With Office, after all.

GARY
A Parking Ramp. A goddamn Parking Ramp.

DONALD
Christ. Here we go.

FRANK
Why do you hate children, Gary?

MR. ROBARTS
[sits up, eyes wide] Woah. WOAH! Tell me more.

GARY
So the guy parks his car. Then he gets in the – check this out – ELEVATOR, and goes to work.

MR. ROBARTS
We’ll sell it at Toys ‘R’ Us right next to Middle Manager With Office!

GARY
Then he’s done working and he gets back in the elevator and gets his car, and drives it down the ramp. Maybe gets some gas if he’s on low.

MR. ROBARTS
Gary, you’re getting a raise.

DONALD
HOW IS THIS BETTER THAN FIREHOUSE OR ROCKETSHIP?

FRANK
[gathers up his papers] I’m moving to a commune in Ohio. Don’t bother sending me my last check.

GARY
Thanks for the raise, Mr. Robarts. [takes a drag on his cigarette] Let me tell you about my next project, Waiting Room With Receptionist.

How To Find Your Story in 3 Simple Steps

My partner, Todd, has led a strange and interesting life. We’re walking down the street and he says, “I want to tell a story on stage, but I don’t HAVE any stories.”

I snort in disbelief, as I was there for most of them.

“No, I really don’t!”

I point bossily (well, to be fair, everything I do all the time is bossy so this is nothing new) at the door of a coffeeshop and we go in and sit down. I get out my notebook and a pen and pass them to Todd. “Make 3 columns,” I say.

“Can I get coffee?” he says.

“LATER. Now: label the first one ‘big emotion’. Label the second one ‘big risk’ and label the third one ‘big change’.”

He does.

“Write down times you felt big emotion in the first column.”

“Like what?” he says.

“Any emotion. The biggest happiness, the biggest sadness, the biggest anger, the most love, the greatest fear.”

He starts to write. When that column is finished, I say, “In the second column, write down the times you faced a big risk.”

He does.

“And in the third, the big changes in your life.”

“But I don’t have any -”

“Babe, if nothing had ever changed in your life you’d still be sleeping in your childhood bedroom while your parents made you breakfast.”

He grins and starts writing. When he’s finished, we look at the list together. The same event appears in all three columns and the story – becoming the father he wanted, instead of copying the father he had – jumps out at us.

Then I order us coffee.

Want to find your story (and have coffee as a reward)? It’s easy peasy.

1. Make 3 columns.

2. Column 1: times you felt big emotion.

3. Column 2: times you faced big risks.

4. Column 3: times you had big changes.

5. Look at the times that appear in all the lists, look at the times you want to talk about, look at the times that mean the most to you. That’s where your story lives.

6. Now you can order yourself a coffee.

(Learn more about my partner Todd at Serendipity Encouraged.)