Aug 25, 2011

Summer Achievements. Snow Cones. And Zombies.



Even though the heat lingers on (at 100° plus in these parts), the kids are back at school and summer is officially over. That means taking the "Summer Achievements" down off the refrigerator.

This achievement system was masterminded by Charlie, who was inspired by the extra achievements you can earn on our favorite household iPhone game, Plants vs. Zombies (sorry Angry Birds, you've been replaced). So basically if you've already won the entire game, oh, say two or three times (like Charlie and I have together) you can still get your fix by running over a certain number of zombies on your front yard with the lawn mower, for example, thus earning yourself these bonus merit-like badges.

Charlie came up with the idea to use the merit badge system to track some of his big summer to-do's, like learning how to tie his shoes with the "Knot Up" achievement. Completed and paid! Uh, yeah, there was a monetary reward included for a little extra oomph. But let's just say Charlie and I both earned that five bucks ten times over after all the drama and tears that went into mastering a shoelace tying technique that would last more than five minutes out the front door.

But other achievements like Nappy Happy (trying to get a seven-year old to still take naps on Sunday afternoons so mom can crash, too)... not as successful.



Other summer projects were just to beat the boredom, like a summer camp diorama kit I got at a hobby store. Charlie and I put it together one Sunday afternoon when it was too hot to go outside and he wouldn't take even the shortest mid-day snooze (which pretty much described every Sunday this summer).

Now, technically, the zombies did not come with the kit. I don't think this particular hobby store (let's just say they close on Sundays for other reasons) would really carry that kind of family fun. So we kinda added that part ourselves. But, hey, we've always defined our own brand of wholesome entertainment around here.




I mean, like how much more Leave It To Beaver can you get than catching the ice cream truck on a summer evening? Of course, that ice cream truck would be like zombie bait in any true neighborhood infestation. That music alone would draw them for miles.


Which is why Sam is on high alert. He's always spotting zombies. "Zshombeees" in Sam-speak.


Oh yeah, they are totally coming down the street. Charlie, make sure your shoes are knotted tight. And someone start the lawn mower.

Aug 21, 2011

What Donny Vomit Did On Summer Vacation


Part of helping our parents get settled into their new house is figuring out where to hang all our framed family photos, art, mirrors, and random taxidermy. That means finding a hammer. And in the Thomas house (once you've dug through a shoe box of screws and nails and mistmatched picture-hanging hardware)... that can also mean finding a hammer like this.

This conjures up an image for me (while alone in my mom's master-suite bathroom about to hang some art by the tub) of Donny back when he was first figuring out this whole sideshow thing of his.

I can just picture him before the handlebar mustache, before the shaved head, and before the Lasik (a Christmas present from mom) pushing his cute John Lennon spectacles back up his nose, while carefully painting the handle of one of our parent's old hammers white – but still leaving a proper mess of dripped paint behind him on the garage floor. And then coming up with the very clever (and very Tim Burton inspired) idea of adding jaunty black stripes out of electrician's tape.

photo: Autumn Luciano

And then I picture him wherever he might be.




Donny's Summer "Vacation":

1. He promoted his Human Blockhead Lager

2. Left his steady gig at Coney Island, still making special appearances but free to tour more

3. Traveled the country performing with the Pretty Things Peep Show

4. They even took the show to Australia, where he showed a little leg, but...


5. He still saved some moves for his family. Specifically for the spontaneous sibling balcony dance party, on the very, very top floor of our very, very, very tall beach rental in Destin, Florida.

That's just the condensed version. Here's Donny's full report.

Even though my dream was to move to New York and establishing myself as a performer at the Coney Island Sideshow, I decided this summer that it was time to move forward and fufill another goal to travel the states and the world. So I jumped across country to kick off Seattle Beer Week with the crew of Coney Island Lager. For three years I have hosted The Kulture Freaks at Brouwers Restaurant, joined by Nic Sin for a night of debauchery and beers.

The Summer really began with a Winter Festival. Twenty hours in flight to Australia. I was set up for ten days in Port Macquarie at a rockabilly festival. Made friends with the locals and traveled around town in classic cars.

Once back in NYC joined up with Shmaltz brewing company for the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. Had my two favorite girls with me as we rode a float down Surf Avenue. Heather my sword-swallowing partner, and Anna my actual "girl." After partying with the Mermaids on the shores of Coney I headed south for another beach – a week with the family in Destin, Florida.

Returned to NYC and picked up another one of my side jobs, swallowing swords for Ripley's Believe it or Not! Odditorium! Spending time with magician, Albert Cadabra, always leads to endless hours of laughter and mischief.

Soon I was back out on the road as July rolled in. Thirteen days of tour to Chicago and back. Our RV, "The Shasta" has become a second home to me. Once back in town headed to Tuxedo Lake, NY for some relaxation with Anna. Playing with dogs and paddling in the lake. Ended July with a trip to Harrisburg Pennsylvania for three nights.

And, August? Well, it's taking me and the Pretty Things Peep Show on another cross country tour, including Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada.

I'm thinking Donny has probably left more than just one hammer behind in all his travels. I'm sure when we pull out the Halloween decorations I'll find some other oddity to get sentimental about. But that's, well... a whole other season.