Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tree Climbing with a Yank

Today's feature film opens with a parking lot scene, where Barb and Leif have just met The Johnson's Zoo for a tree-top climbing adventure.

Barb opens the trunk of their car and begins changing her shoes, prompting her overly emotional sister to go through her mental list of things she has forgotten which, among many other things, includes tennis shoes. Before the incredibly sexy Director could even show how little he cares, Leif steals the stage by stripping down to his boxers. There goes the PG rating. 

'CUT! Leif, what the hell are you doing?'

'Um, I'm changing into my climbing jeans.' 

'Your what?? You know what, never mind! Let's go, people, we only have two hours for this shoot.'


'Listen up, everyone, I want to see excitement from everyone except you, David. I want you to look like a sleepy ghost.'

'CUT!! Okay, Angie - you need to throttle back on the happy. Davey - perfect! You nailed it!' 

TAKE 23:
'Okay, Leif, you're up. Now remember, I want you to look nonchalantly impatient. Of course you'd like to move to the next obstacle, but you have all the time in world to wait for the slow kids to catch up. And for God's sake, keep your pants on this time! And...ACTION!' 

'Perfect! Nailed it.'

TAKE 29:
'Take your time, Barb, we've only got one shot at this scene. We're going for the whole death-grip-while-smiling look. And...ACTION!' 

'Perfect! Nailed it.'

TAKE 34:
'Next up is Tommy The Gun. I want you to show the camera your war face and don't hold back! And...ACTION!' 

'Perfect! Nailed it.'

TAKE 41:
'Okay, Disco Dave, what we're going for is the intersection between "Eyes Wide Shut" and the Jaws character from "The Spy Who Loved Me". And...ACTION!' 

'Perfect! Nailed it.'

TAKE 44:
'Could someone get Peter "The Python" back from make-up? Oh, there you are. This one should be easy, just look peacefully cool, with a slight dash of badass. And...ACTION!' 

'Perfect! Nailed it.'

TAKE 49:
'Okay, Butter Buns, this is the last take. Now, what you need to do is....whoa, are you kidding me? You're not even dressed yet?'


TAKE 65:
'Um, is this thing supposed to spring back?' 


TAKE 94:
'Ooops! Sorry, I think I jumped off a little crooked.'


TAKE 135:
'Okay, take a deep breath and try and nail this one. You just need to slide down and NOT look petrified. And...ACTION!' 


TAKE 167:
'First off, thank you for reminding me to never again cast people married to the Director. That said, it's late, we really need to wrap this up. Could you just try walking across this bridge without falling over? Nice shoes, by the way.'

'Perfect! Nailed it. Barely. That's a wrap!'
Ladder Talk: 
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That we went to the climbing park.
David: That we was with Barbara and Leif in the Kletter park. 
Tom: That we was in the Kletter park. 

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That David always like did stuff wrong and we couldn't play the game in the car. 
David: That I couldn't spend the night by Luca. 
Tom: That I hurt me so often. 

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to see Arman.
David: I want to play soccer outside. 
Tom: I want to see Mama again.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Blown Away!

You should know by now that the zookeepers at the Johnson's Zoo are absolute crap at keeping time. If not, I can probably drive home that confession by explaining that today we celebrated David's birthday. Which was in May. It is now October. Yeah. 

Now, before you sensitive types go galloping off to call the PETA hot-line, I should explain that David did get presents from the family in May; we just never got around to organizing the loud and expensive party where the birthday boy gets to invite every human he has met in the last nine years. 'We' of course being a cute euphemism for 'Angie' because my ears were definitely not reminding anyone that we had almost succeeded in skipping the whole ordeal. Almost.

As we were getting ready to go, I saw David on the balcony blowing bubbles. I thought it was cute that at the ripe age of nine and a half, he was still innocent enough to enjoy blowing bubbles, so I snapped a quick memory. 

Tommy's ear-piercing screams a few seconds later led to several discoveries. The loudest one by far was that David was blowing bubbles that actually belonged to Tommy. Apparently David had snatched the bubble bottle out of Tommy's hands shortly before my ears had arrived. The second noteworthy discovery was actually threefold: 

1) Tommy was also on the balcony; I hadn't seen him before the screaming game started 
2) David was not blowing bubbles just to be cute; he was trying his damnedest to blow the bubbles directly into Tommy's eyeballs
3) David has incredibly good aim 

I resisted the urge to high-five Davey on his aim and tried to explain to a red-eyed Tommy that it was David's BIG DAY, but Tommy is like his mother and has a response for everything. 

'Yeah, but it's HIS party and I'm not even invited!'

Tommy did have a point. Normally, all brothers are invited to another brother's birthday bash, but Peter had already arranged to hang out with Arman and we weren't exactly sure if we wanted to teach our seven-year-old how to shoot other people. Yet

That's right. To the delight, I'm sure, of all the other parents, we decided to have a typical American 'shoot-em-up' round of Laser Tag. Hooah!

But let me briefly backtrack to the night before when Angie was trying her least worst to ruin my Saturday evening. 

'But there's 11 kids and 2 adults. The big car fits 7 and the Smart can only hold 2. How are we getting the other four there?'

Whenever I am confronted with naggy questions that I can't answer, my response is always the same. 

'Bring in the Godfather!' 

Sami was actually just supposed to help us drive the kids to the Sudden Death Match, but as soon as we arrived he made his intentions clear.

'I'm in - where's my vest?'

'Um, actually, the birthday package was for ten kids and we're already paying extra for the 11th kid, so...'

'Yeah, got it. I'm gonna go check my gun. This is gonna be GREAT!'

So yeah, Sami totally annihilated the kids in the first round. He more than doubled the score of his closest competitor. 

After Round One, Angie gently reminded the Finnish Rambo that it was a kid's birthday party and then not so gently suggested that maybe he should not dodge so many bullets. 

In his defense, Sami did seem to consider my wife's proposal before responding. 

After Round Two, the gloves were off.  

'Okay, Davey, listen up - you need to take out The Godfather.'


'Sami! Just aim for the chest. GO! GO! GO!'

I stood by to watch the take-down and quickly realized that I had misjudged two things - David's loyalty to his Godfather and Sami's ability to get my children to turn on me.  

'Hey, Papa! Sami told me to tell you "nice try, sucka!".'

'HEY! What are you doing? You can't shoot the war photographer! I don't even have a vest! That's it! Go tell your leader that I'm going back home!'

Angie is only half-American, so technically, David is only 25% German and 75% American. There's no real point there; I just thought I'd add that mathematical tidbit because I know that it somehow annoys Angie and she occasionally reads my ramblings. You can thank me later, Butter Buns. 

In any case, David was close enough in my book to being a full-breed that I made hot dogs for him and his guests. Angie was, of course, forbidden from helping with any cooking-related activities, but she did unwittingly support me by passing around the American yellow mustard. You're the greatest Mom EVER!

After devouring a taste of America, Angie came racing up to me and, for a change, she wasn't trying to seduce me.

'Steve! Tommy has a concert at the "Senioren Herbst" and we have nobody to take him.'

'Doesn't that mean "Senior fall"'?'

'Yes, it's the singing event in the fall for senior citizens. How is that funny?'

''It's not. Not at all. I'm sure Tommy will have a blast watching the seniors fall. Hahahahaha!'

'He's not watching, he's singing and please stop laughing! So, who's going to take him there?'

Whenever I am confronted with naggy questions that I can't answer, my response is always the same. 

'Bring in the Godfather!' 

Ladder Talk: 
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That David had a good birthday.
David: That I celebrated my birthday with all of my friends at laser tag.
Tom: That I was with Lisi ice-skating, that David had his birthday party, and that I had my performance. 

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That David faked his head thing 'cause he jumped. 
David: That Peter hit my head against the corner of a box. 
Tom: That I couldn't go to David's birthday party. 

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to have a nice day. 
David: I want to play with Ben. 
Tom: I want to go ice-skating and I want to have fun by gymnastics.