Monday, August 18, 2008

Bristol Renaissance Faire 2008 Season

Sunday we spent a day in merry olde England, just across the border into Wisconsin, at The
Bristol Renaissance Faire. Although the re creationists may grouse that the faire lacks authenticity, it's a marvelously fun place to people watch. Where else can you see tattooed pirates, peasants, bar maids in corsets, goths, fairy children, bikers in chain mail bikinis, knights and sorcerers sweltering in the heat together?

We were guests of Ren Faire royalty, The Swordsmen, Dirk Perfect and Guido Crescendo. Last summer Dug worked on their live DVD for 2 days, which they graciously gave us a copy of, along with free fair tickets.

Highlights were scaling the castle walls, bungee fun on the pirate catapult, spinning on the pirate ride and sky chair go round, eating mile high chocolate crepe sundaes, and watching shows. We caught acts by The Swordsmen, Moonie the Magnif'Cent, Tea Time With Lady Ettie and The Washing Well Wenches.

I've decided I wanna dress like Lady Ettie when I grow up (minus the shoddy dental hygiene).


The kids learned about good dollars and sense when they each took a set amount of their own piggy bank money to spend as they chose. Both kids picked out mythical creatures necklaces, hand made Indian bells, tie dyed scarves and ribbon dancers. Sagezilla bought poi balls for festival dancing and earrings.

Du-Jay frugally saved most of his money, making a few small purchases at the end of the day, once he'd seen everything. He now has 3 magic, colored glass rocks, a handmade glass bead, and money to spare. Mama had to hit up Ye Merry Olde Cash Station, before the day's end, but it was well worth it.

We had a fabulously fun day. Every night from 6:20-7pm, there is a closing finale, drum jam. Hordes of colorful characters gather on the green to dance together. Sagezilla broke in her new poi balls and Du-Jay took movies of the contact jugglers, drummers and dancers with his own camera.

The faire ends Monday of labor day weekend, but returns for a weekend run all summer, every summer.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Missed Meat Puppets and Caterpillar Butts

Summer is certainly fest season, as Chicagoans race outside to soak up as much sun as possible, before we have to hibernate again. This past weekend, we hit the dual and adjoining Kids Fest and West Fest.

The 3rd annual Kids Fest was not crowded and the kids were able to moon bounce and play on an inflatable obstacle course as long as they wanted to stay in. They also got to emerge repeatedly from a giant, inflatable caterpillar's butt, with minimal wait times.
There were plenty of free carnival games, musical entertainment, and high flipping hijinks with The Jesse White Tumblers.
We even ran into a friend of ours, Jeff Parker, guitar player for the band Tortoise and numerous other musical endeavors. He was hanging out with his daughter, who is in first grade. She spent a year of preschool in class with Sagezilla and a year with Du-Jay, in different schools.

We brought home live, growing bean seed necklaces at The Garfield Conservatory booth, made cat tails with Brookfield Zoo and animal masks with Bubbles Academy. Face painting was available, and after the initial $2 per child entry fee, most activities were free.
We declined the extra charges for pony rides and rock climbing wall, but each of our kids made $1.50 worth of slime with Mad Science. Earlier in the year we saw Mad Science at Midsommerfest and made our own superballs. The slime provided hours of fun as fake snot, slippery high fives, and general gloppy good times.

Our big plan was to stay for The Meat Puppets, but their 8:30 start time on a school night proved to be too ambitious. So we took the kids home earlier and Googled old Meat Puppets music videos for the kids to round out their school of rock educations.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hoopin' it up in Wicker Park

08/08/08 marked the start of the summer olympics in China.

Closer to home, an eclectic mix of people (and animals) were enjoying the beautiful weather in Wicker Park and performing a few athletic feats themselves. Welcome to little known world hoop day.

Du-Jay (who's new nickname is "the wininest kid ever") won a 2nd lottery in 5 days and got one of 4 $30 pro hoops from Blaze. Event sponsors gave away cheaper hoops to numerous kids and people were encouraged to BYO hoops.

We spotted a good mix of dogs and even a parrot, enjoying the spectacle.

Du invented a new xtreme sport--tree-la-hooping which involves hooping under a low hanging branch and taking a flying leap to hang from the branch while keeping the hoop in motion. Much fun!

After all the hoopla, we had a wonderful Thai meal across Damen at Penny's Noodles.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kidzapalooza 08

Slash and Perry Farrell rock Kidzapalooza

Big lottery winners Du-Jay (7) and Sagezilla (5)

My children's school has an annual Pastapalooza. King's Island amusement park has a gift shop called Lots a Palooza and variations on the theme have come to generically signify any kind of fest or sale a palooza out there.

I had a nightmare the night before Lollapalooza 08 that everything had been paloozafied and I was forced to pump at gas-a-palooza and shop at Costcoapalooza. I've been increasingly annoyed by the overuse of palooza, but the original namesake is anything but a looza. It has become bigger and better with age, with a record 225,000 rock fans attending the fest this year. That was a capacity crowd of 75,000 a day.

Du-Jay had the extreme good fortune to win the grand prize $400 electric guitar donated by Daisy Rock. It has the delicious name, Rock Candy Classic Diamond Sparkle. We had a blast wheeling it around in the baby jogger and getting compliments on the new arrival.

The kids loved silkscreening tee shirts with an old timey villan rendition of Paul Frank's infamous monkey, Julius. We also screened unbleached tote bags with a rockin' bird design.

Paul Frank flies in art department pros from California to help the kids silkscreen and to temp tattoo all the spawn of the inked parental masses. These amazingly tireless artists totalled 400 t's, 800 totes and a whopping 1,020 tattoos!! Our favorite artist says she intentionally makes wacky faces so people will wonder about her in their family albums.

Du-Jay is gettin' inked by the designer of the Kidzapalooza tee shirts that Miss Sagezilla is modeling. The tees feature a fabulous characature of Lolla founder and Jane's Addiction frontman, Perry Farrell, cavorting with a host of beloved Small Paul characters.

Swag-a-palooza (sorry I couldn't resist):
Paul Frank--3 bird tote bags, 1 Julius and 2 bird tee shirts, 2 pocket mirrors, 4 posters, and a hand full of Small Paul stickers and buttons, 1 all natural lip balm and the ever useful, Paul Frank earplugs

Scavenger hunt, race car track winnings and free handouts-- 1 wooden snake, 1 large super ball with frog, 1 plastic parachuting man, 2 squirt guns

Edibles--4 glutin free giant cookies and daily Probug Kefer all around

Misc--3 photos of the kids as future rock stars on a stage complete with cheering masses backdrop, hip hop CD of MC Sagezilla and MC Du-Jay rocking out on the mic., 2 covers for said CD, bubble art, 4 dayglo orange, battery opp. fans on lanyards, 1 black and 1 white bandanna from myspace and 3 dog tag ankle bells crafts

Raffle--2 Kidzapalooza harmonicas, 1 $400 electric guitar

Of course, it's ultimately all about the music. Fans under 10 and their grateful parents get rock star seating in a special gated section up front. Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Bill Belzer of Uncle Tupelo, Peter DiStefano and Tor, Perry Farrell and Slash all rocked the kids stage. Homemade Jamz' may be less famous, but we thoroughly enjoyed their kickin' blues on instruments made from mufflers.

Kidzapalooza closed at 4:30 daily, to give parents plenty of time to see great mainstage acts. Friday, the whole family enjoyed Cat Power, The Raconteurs, and Radiohead. Saturday we caught mainstage acts Lupe Fiasco, Toadies and Rage Against The Machine. Sunday we rocked out to Love and Rockets, The National, and Nine Inch Nails.