I have been listening to the song “Walk Like an Egyptian” for most of the evening. It wasn’t me playing it over and over; it was the kids. I don’t have anything against the song. If it came on the radio I wouldn’t turn it off and I probably have it in my music collection somewhere based on my propensity for purchasing 80’s collections, (at least before you could pick-and-choose MP3s to purchase—it wouldn’t have made my “to buy” list on its own).
The next question is why where the kids playing this song over and over?
Last week, Ann and her friend decided that they wanted to make “web skits”. They also on their own included William, which I thought was really nice. I think they got the core idea from the TV show iCarley, (which I’ve only seen a couple times since we no longer have cable—but that’s another story for another day). Ann was telling me about this and already had an amazing wealth of ideas. (She said it was “a start”, but frankly she spilled enough to make a whole season.)
Her creative process in this latest effort is impressively varied. The three main approaches seem to be:
- Start with a location, add characters, and then figure out the situation from there.
- Start with a funny “quirk” or theme, (like a way of talking or a prop), use themselves as the characters and then fill in the location—the situation being more of a byproduct.
- Use an existing theme and characters then tweak it.
Ann and her friend checked out some books for research purposes. These were mostly for locations, (approach 1), but Ann also got a collections on Peanuts cartoons, (approach 3). William wanted to help, so checked out a book of Calvin and Hobbs cartoons. He was excited to show Ann, but when he pulled it out, she was like, “it’s all *guys*!” But then she realized that she had hurt his feelings and told him it was a good choice. (For all their quarreling, they do care deeply for each other.)
After Ann told me about this new effort in the car ride home, I focused on making dinner while the kids headed upstairs to plot. A few minutes into juggling pans on the stove I start to hear ominous thumps above me. There are thumps and there are *thumps* and these were the latter, so I head upstairs to see what’s going on in the interest of safety. It was pretty obvious that they were in “my” room as the door was closed, (and locked!), with a sign taped to it that read, “Kids Only”. I cleared my throat and they cheerfully reminded me of the sign—kids only. So I knocked and they obliged me by opening the door a crack and telling me “kids only”. But then their excitement got the best of them and they let me in to see what they were working on.
The first things that I saw when I was allowed into their sanctuary were: they had stripped the comforter off the bed and folded it in a strip on the floor; they had removed all the pillows and placed them at one end of the strip; there was a stuffed bear hanging out on the floor; and there was an open Peanuts cartoon book on the bed. There were also a couple plastic bats hanging about.
As I tried to make sense of the scene, Ann assumed the director role and told William what they were going to do and where to stand. William took the actor role and said, “shouldn’t I be there and you there?” “Oh, yeah,” she agreed while they set up. (The plastic bats weren’t used in this production, so I can only imagine why they were there and what they did with them—I’m thinking something along the lines of a Star Wars light saber fight, but will ignore that.)
As it turns out, the stuffed bear was a football. Ann was “Lucy” and William “Charlie Brown”. The situation was the infamous “Lucy holds the football for Charlie Brown and pulls it away while he tries to kick it sending him spiraling on his back” bit. Thus all the pillows, (to cushion the fall), the open Peanuts book, and the stuffed bear turned football, (I guess the kids thought it too cold outside to go into the garage and get a real football).
Now that you have the background, I can finally get to the song. You see, one of the locations Ann picked was Egypt. While most of the other locations were more specific, (e.g. the home of an English aristocrat, a restaurant, etc.), this one was not as developed. She had a book, but decided to get on the computer and look up things about Egypt. Somehow, she quickly came upon the song “Walk Like an Egyptian” along with a wealth of YouTube clips. They found this exceptionally funny and there was no shortage of clips to watch—and watch and laugh they did!
I was again cooking dinner at the embryo of this. My glances showed nothing objectionable, (and frankly some funny hairstyles and the like), and the kids were getting along for once, so all was good, (except for the endless “Walk Like an Egyptian” playlist which is now stuck in my head). After dinner and choir, the kids head back to the computer. I was now able to hang out with them then and watch the process. It was pretty neat.
At the end of it all, the kids were watching a capture of some people playing the game “Just Dance” and playing along. I asked if I should have gotten that for them instead of “Dance Dance Revolution”. William said no while Ann said it yes, but it was for the Xbox. I probably shouldn’t have said anything, but I told her it was on the Wii too. I guess I know what I’ll be getting for her birthday in March…
Now I’ve set up a play date for Ann and her friend this weekend, and I know what they want to do. I need to get the cameras and tripods ready. I wish I had better post production equipment around to let them play with that. Ann’s already got me in the credits, though. I’m Mr. S.