Arts in the Family: A Family of Artists Just Trying to Make a Living in the Wilds of Texas


Friday, May 20, 2011

It's Funny 'Cause It's True

Friday Roundup

I'm already thinking about autumn. It was hot and muggy today.

This has been a productive week here at Rancho Ramirez. I visited a couple of schools as my alter ego Doc Ed. Today I spent a couple of hours at Fuentes Elementary in Kyle, Texas. I was impressed by the level of interest in the aquifer and the environment in general that the children of the school demonstrated.

They're conducting water quality tests of some nearby waterways. Wow! They also participate in clean ups at local parks. The faculty is doing an amazing job educating the students on the water conservation and preservation and the kids really seem to have a genuine interest for the subject. Science is a very important part of the curriculum at Fuentes. It's really great to see that because I don't see that level of interest often enough.

I've also started working, once again, on a children's book that I've been writing and rewriting and rewriting for the last few years. I reached a point where I was just stumped about trimming it down and making it an easier read. So I just decided I needed to leave it alone for a while and got on with other projects. Once I looked it over again I was able to approach with with renewed enthusiasm and a fresh perspective making it easier to make the edits that were needed. I'm very excited about it.

Over the last few days I've also been making minor repair on some Doc Ed props and preparing to build my next prop for the Doc Ed kindergarten show: a Texas blind salamander puppet. I've also been working on some excercises in ventriloquism because the puppet will be used in a ventriloquist routine in the show. I think the biggest challenge,though, is developing a character for the puppet that will be funny and engaging for that age group. I'm still not sure sure what characteristics he'll have. This probably one of the hardest things I've had to do in a couple of years but I'm enjoying the challenge and I'm grateful for it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Coming to a Bookstore Near You!

Here's an intriguing little promo for a graphic novel. I ran across it as I linked form site to site to site. Now I don't know how I came across it but I am looking forward to reading it when it comes out.

Lights Out for Escobar Elementary

Eleuterio Escobar Jr. (1894-1970) civil rights activist, businessman, community leader and one of the namesakes for Coronado/ Escobar Elementary School in the Edgewood Independent School District in San Antonio.

This morning I presented the "Edwards Aquifer: History of a Rock Star" show for 4th and 5th grade students at Coronado/ Escobar Elementary on the west side of town. It was the first school that I've visited that will be closing at the end of this school year due to the legislative budget cuts. It was an odd feeling knowing that in a little over a week the school would close it's doors permanently and next fall the kids will have to be bused to various schools not in the neighborhood. The property itself will probably be sold off by the district. Here's a little about the school's history taken from their website:

Hello and welcome to Coronado-Escobar Elementary School. Our school offers the Dual Language Bilingual Program, a long-term instructional program where both English and Spanish speaking students develop oral and cognitive/academic language proficiencies in both English and Spanish. We offer our students the opportunity to achieve academically in a culturally enriched environment.
Coronado-Escobar got its name when Coronado Elementary School was closed and Escobar Junior High School became an elementary school in 1987.
Coronado Elementary School was named in honor of the great explorer Francisco Coronado.
Escobar Junior High was named in honor of Eleuterio Escobar. Mr. Escobar was born on September 11, 1894 in Pearsall, Texas. He came to San Antonio as a young boy and eventually owned several businesses.
Mr. Escobar was president of the School Improvement League from 1938 to 1950. The League fought to improve the conditions of all schools on the West Side within the San Antonio Independent School District. He would often visit schools on the West Side and make notes of the conditions. People would sometimes call him with complaints and Escobar would make phone calls or write letters to settle the matter. He attended political rallies to lecture the crowd on the necessity of improving the schools.
On January 5, 1959, the EISD Board of Trustees voted to name the district's new junior high school in honor of Mr. Escobar. On May 10, 1970, Mr. Escobar died at the Lutheran General Hospital and was buried at the San Fernando Cemetery #2. *

Below are some links with biographical info for Eleuterio Escobar.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Life is Good!

The photo above is of Ian Varella, a talented and very funny ventriloquist my wife and I had the pleasure of meeting earlier this month at a gathering of fellow variety artists and friends: Bob Abdou, Rik Gern, David Pitts and of course Mr. Ian Varella. As I mentioned in that post I was too busy having fun to remember that I had not taken many photos as I would normally do. So here's a bit about the fellow pictured above to begin to correct that mistake.

Pammy and I feel blessed to work in the business and can count as our friends actors, singers, dancers, clowns, acrobats, human cannonballs, trapeze artists, wild animal trainers, contortionists, magicians, jugglers, puppeteers and ventriloquists. It's a cliche but it's so true: there's no business like show business.

Below is a link to his site and a link to a fantastic ventriloquist blog where Bob Abdou posted a group photo of all of us and wrote a pretty interesting article that the photo accompanied. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Doc Ed Update

This week Doc Ed will be at Coronado Elementary on Thursday and on Friday will be at Fuentes Elementary. The school year is quickly winding down but summer is starting to shape up well for good ol' Doc!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Circus Memories

Mike Smith backstage at the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus In 1995. He was doing advance work for them at the time back when the circus was sponsored by Sears. Yes, I know. Sears. Go figure. This was taken at Madison Square Garden. You can see the wardrobe boxes with the clown costumes for " Spec" and the tutus for the ballet number we did with David Larible.

Myself and Pammy, in 1995, about to head out from the Madison Square Garden to do a performance along with other circus performers for patients in the aids wing at Belleview. Eric Michael Gillette, on the far left, organized the performance himself as well as sang and did comedy for it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Slapstick Theater- Bud Abbott and Lou Costello


Sunday Morning Matinee- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Sunday May 15th was L. Frank Baum's birthday. He, of course, wrote " The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and all the thirteen sequels that soon followed. In honor of his birthday Sunday Morning Matinee presents the earliest known surviving film version of his first Oz book, " The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", made in 1910 by the Selig Polyscope Company. Below are links to various sites for more on the books and L. Frank Baum's life.
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