Tag Archives: Events

Mini Van Feed: Capoeira, Hip Hop Chess, and the Adventures of Mr. Potato Head

This past Saturday Van’s Capoeira class did a demo at a Hip Hop Chess event in downtown Raleigh. I am only recently becoming familiar with Capoeira, and I didn’t have a clue what Hip Hop Chess was. The event was held in a large meeting room behind the IMAX theater at Marbles Children’s Museum.


A minister-type man kicked off the event with a rather extended 30 minute talk about “why we were all there”. I originally thought the purpose was to showcase different martial arts and dance troupes, but quickly realized that was only the half of it. The group that organized the event had a larger mission in mind. The philosophy behind the mission was that teaching at-risk kids chess would greatly improve their life-decision making skills.

There were several things that the speaker said that struck me.

1. He was able to tell all the teenagers to “leave their cool at the door”, and do it in a really-not-so-cheessy sounding way, where you could tell they were all listening and would actually comply. Even I was thinking, you know what, I think that I too,  will leave what I have left of my cool at the door. We had to do this to allow us to meet someone new.

2. He explained why learning to play chess was crucial. He said that the skill of learning to think through all of the consequences when making a decision, as is done when one plays chess,  helps you become a better man or woman. Plus they had video footage of the Wu Tang Clan doing it, you can let your cool back in now.


The RZA of Wu-tang Clan wins the championship belt at the first annual Hip Hop Chess Federation's Chess Kings Invitational.

3. Towards the end of his talk, he started the poem, “The hand that rocks the cradle…” and stopped. The entire crowd responded with, “rules the world.” How did I somehow miss this piece of language? The way he spoke about this particular passage had me in tears in less than 5 minutes.

I like to think that I was on the verge of tears because my smoocher was nervous. He is 6. He has never been on stage. He hates crowds. He hates noise. He is new to capoeira. It wasn’t him that was nervous, I was nervous.

After the man finished speaking, he introduced the teacher of Van’s Capoeira class. He was great. He took a lot of time to explain the history and instruments of Capoeira. It is a martial art invented in Brazil by slaves from Africa. They would practice self-defense moves in public and disguise them as dance. The instruments are basic yet effective.

He also explained he had given all of his students Portuguese nicknames. He went around the semi-circle and told the audience each student’s nickname. There was a kid nicknamed “Viking” and another called “Battery”, and then he came to Van. He said that his nickname was “Beedu”. It means the wise one. A funny kind of emotion is being a proud parent for seemingly silly reasons.

It is all pretty neat to watch. The class all took turns sparring with eachother and the crowd was into it. At the very end Van’s teacher whispered to him and asked if he wanted to spar and he declined.  He was brave for standing up there.

What does this have to do with the adventures of Mr. Potato Head? Being so close to Marbles Children’s Museum, we *had* to go there afterwards. The exhibit this month is the Adventures of Mr. Potato Head. Just had to give a shout out to Hasbro, the exhibit is brilliance in marketing. Lenovo should sponsor travelling children’s museum exhibits.


San Francisco

I am looking forward to San Francisco this week for the gdgt.com launch event and days o’ social media meetings. The event looks interesting, especially after checking the DNA lounge website where it will be hosted. Looks like the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has been trying to shut the place down calling it, “a disorderly house injurious to the public welfare and morals”.  There is even a website where you can sign up to donate to a legal defense fund for them.

As for the meetings, I love meeting the people that I have talked with on the phone or by email countless times, but have never met in person. There really is no substitute.

But I think I may be most excited about the food itinerary that my colleague put together for me.  (Thanks David!) I will report back.

Van in Local Paper Among Cast of Characters


9th Annual Ettrick Celtic Festival and Weekend

This weekend Van and I drove up to Matoaca, Virginia to meet my mom and her husband, David at his old family house for Mother’s Day. It happened to be the same weekend that David’s cousin, John McEwan, was hosting the 9th Annual Ettrick Celtic Festival on his farm about a mile away.

Celtic Festival May 9

My mom had mentioned bagpipers and kilts, but failed to mention the rest of the billing:

St. Andrew’s Legion Pipes and Drums
Scottish Clans
Willys Jeeps – car show and Willys memorabilia
WWII Displays
Native American Display
Fire Fighters’ Memorabilia
Historical Displays, Civic groups
Civil War Re-enactors
Farm Animals
Haley’s Honey

I think the best way to get the full experience here, is to probably just share some pictures.


John McEwan’s Farm

100_3994St. Andrew’s Legion Pipes and Drums

Celtic Bunch

Clan McEwan and Co.

Van and JeepsWilly’s Jeeps

100_4029It felt a bit like M*A*S*H for a while, if M*A*S*H were on a farm

They will come to your school and do a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the Buffalo Soldiers if you wish

Buffalo Soldier decendents who will come to your school and give a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the Buffalo Soldiers  

(dressed in period clothing, the word PowerPoint just sounded weird…

Me: “Oooh, PowerPoint!” It didn’t even register.)

100_4014A very sweet Native American who made Van a dream catcher to ward off bad dreams

100_4019Native American Display

I couldn’t imagine what could possibly bring this diverse group of people together for a smallish festival on a farm, kind of in the middle of nowhere. But then Van and I saw this collection of items that John McEwan had found on his farm. They include arrowheads, remnants of Native American pipes, Civil War bullets, buttons and coins and even some pottery that was made by an old college nearby. Add Scottish ancestry and there you have it.


After the festival, the Clan McEwan all headed down to their place on the river. On the road you take to get to down to the river, you pass a field on your right. I am always totally intrigued because the guy that owns the property is a little cooky, and always has these little mini sculptures made out of wood and net and metal to ward off aliens (that’s right, aliens).  Usually the field is covered in them, but today, it was a small subset. 


And here is a picture of Van down by the river.


One last note. I know that Matoaca is not on the cutting edge as far as restaurants go, and I understand that there are limited options, but I would like to say that no one, not ever, will talk me into going to a Cracker Barrel at 9:45 am on a Sunday that is Mother’s Day. 

Update: Van in the paper:http://villagenewsonline.net/artman2/publish/Community/Great_Times_at_Ettrick_Celtic_Festival052009.shtml

This American Life Movie Encore

So the question you might have is what in the heck is a “This American Life Movie Encore.” I wasn’t sure myself until last night. Let me break it down:

This American Life is a radio show, hosted by Ira Glass, that now has a TV show (Showtime), that now has a movie. But the movie last night was actually a live taping of the radio show on stage in NYC last week. How do you host a live movie? Good question. Apparently when they first aired the movie last week, there was a live feed from on stage in NYC to movie theaters across the country. (?!?! wow! Has this ever been done before?) I was unable to attend the live movie, but was free for the encore of the live movie last night. The funny part is that Ira knew there was going to be an encore last week, so he would talk to the audience watching on May 1 (shout outs to the theater where his dad was watching in Baltimore) and then he would talk to the audience on May 14 (Latecomers!). It was really messing with my space-time continuum (see what happens when you watch Star Trek, you start using words like space-time continuum). 

The movie had the same format as the radio show: one+ hour split up into acts where 4-5 people are tell their stories and are sometimes interviewed. The theme of this particular show was “Return to the Scene of the Crime”. The stories told in the movie were for the most part excellent, leave that one weird one with Neil Patrick Harris in Dr. Horrible’s Sing A Long blog.  

The prologue was about a girl in Florida who had stolen from a convenience store and as part of her punishment, had to return to the store and spend several hours holding up a sign that read, “I stole from this store”. Act one was “D-U-Why?!”, a story by Mike Birbigilia about how he was hit by a drunk driver and then blamed for it because of a carelessly written police report. He ends up owing the drunk driver 12 thousand dollars because he can’t get anyone to listen to him (talk about frustrating). Act Two was a story by Starlee Kine about enjoying being the most popular girl at a rehab center. While she reads the story, there are a series of drawings done on Post-It notes shown on the screen behind her relating to the story. They are the work of Arthur Jones who does the Post-It Note reading series (these are really incredible).  The last story is by Dan Savage, who writes a sex column called Savage Love. His story was called “Our Man of Perpetual Sorrow”, and was a story about his issues with the Catholic church before and after his mother’s recent death.  Excellent piece, that had us all in tears.

The other kind of interesting thing about last night is that I went to the movie with a good friend of mine and her mom and step-dad. I had talked to her step-dad for a while at a friend’s party a week or two ago and learned that he had just taken a few classes last year to become a DJ at a local station. I told him that this is something that I would love to learn to do and last night he brought a whole folder of contacts and emails, and formats of how to get started.  So I am very excited to contact the station and take a beginner course in radio. Think local station with few listeners, not “NANO IN THE MORNING!”  : )

Star Trek

Got to see an early viewing of the new Star Trek movie yesterday afternoon because Lenovo partnered with Paramount and Intel to do a sweepstakes. Not usually my cup of tea, but thought was very good. VERY action packed. The doctor is funny.

The Handmade Market

My sister, Kelly, Van and I went down to the Handmade Market yesterday afternoon at the Marbles Museum in downtown Raleigh.

The Handmade Market is for hip, handcrafted goods from more than 50 of the best and brightest artists, independent designers and crafters from NC and beyond.

I am a huge fan of etsy, a website where you can buy and sell homemade goods, so this was right up my alley. There were many terrific vendors to see (and buy from). Adam Peele and his partner (pictured below) own Ahpeele. They are super friendly screenprinters with edgy tshirt designs. Kelly pretty much cleaned them out.


They are hosting a Traffic Jam Flea Market at the Ahpeele Studio (400 Capital Blvd) on Saturday, June 6th from 9-5. The flyer lists a myriad of activities: local art show, books, vintage clothing, tshirts, music, bread (bread?), yoga demo and… hoola hooping (interesting). I don’t think there is a website, so thought I would mention it here.

My one purchase of the day was a necklace from Ileana Rodriguez who owns India Romeo.  Two more of our favorite vendors were Lucky Accessories and it’s by design. We also bought some the sea salt caramels from Karen and Nancy Homemade Goodies after they gave us a tester. I have one caramel left that I am refusing to eat, because then I won’t have any left, and that is one of those foods that I am not allowed to have in the house because it is just too good. Who would have thunk it, sea salt and caramel, yummy.

After the market, we all went to dinner at a new sushi place called Haru on Glenwood. That one is going into the weekly cycle. They had amazing, amazing sushi and were very kid friendly, actually, all told, they were really all-around-everyone friendly.  After that we took a hike and saw two bunny rabbits. It was a really great Sunday.


Found some cards from addional artists to note in the bottom of my purse. : )

Wolfie and the Sneak 

Mood Swing Studio