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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Costumes Inspired by Deedle Deedle Dees Songs

Here's a brief list of costume ideas inspired by the songs of Lloyd H. Miller and the Deedle Deedle Dees . I've organized them roughly according to difficulty. Some brand-new unrecorded songs (like my new tune about Diana Nyad) are here to give you even more options. I've also included some suggestions for spinning boring store-bought costumes as something a bit more Dee-lightful (sorry).

EASY costumes
Diana Nyad - a cap and some goggles

John Muir - wear some pants and a shirt and some boots then add a long beard made out of whatever you've got lying around: your dad's old socks, a dishtowel, some construction paper, some yarn, etc.

Blood - wear all red clothing and say you're dressed as the "River of Blood." if people look at you funny, look all put-out and tell them about the Deedle Deedle Dees' song about the circulatory system. act like it's crazy they've never heard it.

Cool Papa Bell or Satchel Paige - put on your little league uniform. replace the name of your team on the jersery and the logo on the hat with the name and logo of some awesome Negro League team that Cool Papa or Satchel played for: the Kansas City Monarchs, the Homestead Grays, the Pittsburgh Crawfords, etc. where to get the logo and name? just draw 'em on heavy-duty paper and tape 'em on.

Subway car - get a box, decorate it like a classic Bluebird subway car, cut a hole for your head and arms. rule Halloween. tell people the history of the Bluebird you learned from our song.

Tenzing Norgay or Matthew Henson - Put on every piece of winter outerwear you have. say you're Tenzing Norgay leading the way to the top of Chomolungma AKA Everest. Or Matthew Henson on your way to the North Pole.

Diego Rivera - put on some pants and a button-up short sleeve shirt. put a pillow under your shirt to create a giant belly. get a paint brush. tell people you're Diego Rivera. if possible, have someone else in your family dress as Frida (but this costume is kind of labor intensive)

Wilma Rudolph - wear your school P.E. uniform or gym clothes. tell people you're Wilma Rudolph.

Elsa or Anna from Frozen  - say that you're Marie Curie after working with radioactive material. or Eleanor's Roosevelt's nightmare of what it meant to be First Lady (a party hostess). or a bird (consult the song "Birds of America Don't Care-Oh" for a bird name you like to say).

A bear costume - Say you're dressed as the bear from "Growl Growl," our song about the creation of the Alaskan flag and the constellation configuration (that appears as a big spoon or a bear depending how you see it) that helps us find the North Star

Buzz Lightyear - Pick one of the four female astronauts mentioned in my new tune, "The Rocket Went Up" (Valentina Tereshkova, Christa McAuliffe, Mae Jemison, Sally Ride) and say you're dressed as her.

The classic two-person horse costume - say you're dressed as Baldy, the Civil War horse we salute in hip hop song

Pocahantas or any of those gross Native American girl costumes - Tie a baby doll to your back with a sheet. Tell people you're Sacagawea and that Lewis and Clark were your assistants as you led an expedition across the country.

Everything here is period stuff you'll have to gather or sew.
Nellie Bly - look up her picture and you'll see the challenge she presents. you'll need a long skirt, a hat, that fancy shirt, an umbrella if possible. maybe some stuff that looks like this is hidden in your basement or closet from a grandmother or something. or maybe you're a master of the sewing machine and can make it.

other period costumes with an accompanying Dee song:
Harriet Tubman
Theodore Roosevelt
Abigail Adams
Henry Box Brown
Edgar Allan Poe
Sojourner Truth

Monday, September 22, 2014

Help Deedle Deedle Dees leader Lloyd H. Miller make a grown-up musical

The show Lloyd H. Miller, leader of the Deedle Deedle Dees, has been working for over two years with Roy Nathanson was chosen for a residency in Brooklyn this fall. This means they get 10 days to workshop the show culminating in two intimate workshop performances on Nov 7 and 8 (you can come).

The show is called Trashed Out and features Roy's longtime band, the Jazz Passengers. It's inspired by Exiles in Eden, Paul Reyes' book about the foreclosure crisis in Florida. Is it depressing? Yes, in parts, but it's also exhilarating -- imagine a live band of virtuosos (many who come from behind their instruments to act) plus an ensemble of actors plus video projections all working together at once, performing all brand-new songs written by Roy and Lloyd, telling a story of homelessness and heartbreak but also one of love and family. It's the kind of show that's never been done before (have you seen a musical with a live jazz band that improvises and becomes part of the show?) but also the sort of show we don't see too much any more, an old-fashioned song-and-dance musical with big themes and a love story at its center.

Will you help us make it happen? We have to raise money to fund the residency and the performances. Visit our Kickstarter, watch our video, read all about the project, then donate what you can. We have some cool rewards even for small donations.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Dees play the Lower East Side April 27th

The drummer had a baby, I've been working on a very involved school project, and it's just been hard to schedule a show. So we're thrilled to announce our return to the stages of NYC Sunday, April 27th. We're playing the Manny Cantor Center on Lower East Side. 11am.

See you there?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Some of what we read in 2013

These are not recommendations.

I was not paid to write about these books.

These are simply some of the books my kids and I read in 2013. I didn't include my wife's books because she hates social media and wouldn't want people knowing what she read (she read more than all of us combined this past year btw).

This was the first year my daugher, 8, finally started consuming series books at high speed. Clementine, Ivy & Bean, and the Babysitter's Club graphic novels were big. Her top book by far, though, was Smile written and drawn by Raina Telegemeier, a tale of a girl's dental adventures. This became sort of phenomenon amongst third grade girls at her school. She was on the waiting list at the library for it and desperate to get it so I just went ahead and bought it for her. A good investment. She read it like 15 times.

For me this was a year of the novel. I've spent so much of my life focused on history books and in 2013 I just didn't feel like reading the same kind of books I have for a long time (lots of biographies and popular histories). So I binged on novels. A lot of them I read on my phone. Not sure how I feel about this. Some of the ones I read in their actual physical form -- and could find in my disastrous post-holiday house -- you can see above.

Yes, I read the Story of O (I never had!) and James Salter's sex ode, A Sport and A Pastime. I am not ashamed.

I had never read Jesus' SonCivilWarLand in Bad Decline, nor White Teeth before this year. I loved Johnson's novels so this was an oversight I needed to correct. George Saunders is another I finally got to and he pretty much took over my life as I debauched on most of his catalog on my phone during a two- or three-week period. Zadie Smith I finally tried after becoming entranced by her New Yorker piece on Joni Mitchell. Glad we finally got together, me and Zadie.

I read & Sons with an online book club with some friends who live in other places. We "met" on GooglePlus. It was really fun but we haven't successfully begun a second book. We began American Dervish together but I think only I finished it. Emily, Faiuna, etc: can we start again please? (sorry to quote Jesus Christ Superstar)

I finished vol. 3 of Robert Caro's LBJ biography and almost finished the fourth. These books are a problem for me. When I get near the end of one I put it aside, afraid of what my life will be like without it.

I read the kids the first two Harry Potter books and started the third. They're finally ready. I'm trying not to be a lunatic but I really want to get all crazy doing the voices and making it super scary and reading a whole lot at one sitting, often more than they can handle. Advice on this welcome.

Darin Strauss and I ended up following each other on Twitter. Not sure why. But I'm glad we did because I've discovered his writing (which everyone else already knew about it). He was nice enough to send me a copy of his memoir Half A Life after I tweeted about the copy I ordered being stolen from my porch (I like to think of the moment when the thieves, thinking they had some sweet electronics or something, opened the packages to find an elegiac literary memoir and two volumes of the Clementine chapter books). I sent him some albums for his kids in return.

Michael Hearst's wonderful encyclopedia of hard-to-believe read living things, Unusual Creatures, was revisited a lot. So were the books of Ezra Jack Keats. The Dees did a whole show based on his work at the Contemporary Jewish Museum along with Rudy Trubitt back in February and this started our family reacquaintance with books we knew (Snowy Day, Peter's Chair) and our introduction to ones we didn't (Regards to the Man in the Moon -- a book that forced me to have a number of conversations about 9/11 due to its beautiful picture of the old mighty towers).

Tomi Ungerer's Moon Man never gets old. Both kids still want it time to time.

Robert Sullivan's book about following in Washington's steps -- literally -- makes the whole experience of living in this crowded dirty part of the world much more pleasant. I think about it all the time. (I might have actually read this in 2012 but I can't remember)

D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths rules more every time you open it. But you know that. Persephone's tale was my 5yo son's most-requested of this past year.

I continued to re-read Paul Reyes' Exiles in Eden as Roy Nathanson and I revised the script and the songs for our musical Trashed Out that was inspired by it.

Morrissey's Autobiography: Booker Prize I say. It's as good as fiction so why not?

What am I forgetting? A lot. Jeanette Winterson! My friend Joy leant me two of her books and I read them in a week. Had heard of her but thought she was a romance novelist. Had no idea she was this icon of feminist and lesbian literature. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is about me! Well none of the specifics but the general feeling, the truth of every moment.

I'm sure I'll think of some other stuff worth mentioning and when I do I'll update this page.

What did you read?


some other stuff that I remembered we read:

my 8yo daughter 
To Dance, a ballerina's graphic novel  by Siena Cherson Siegel with artwork by Mark Siegel
The Whole World's Crazy and at least one book in Jimmy Gownley's Amelia Rules! series
at least one of those My Dumb Diary books
Radioactive, a Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss (the stunning graphic novel about Marie and Pierre Curie)
Weird, But True (put out by National Geographic) and many other fact-filled "can you believe it" true science books with similar titles. She often read these at the table (until we asked her to put them away) and quoted weird facts at length.

my 5yo son
(these are books I read to him)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and the sequels (my wife has been reading these to both kids)
I Am Optimus Prime, Bumblebee's Best Friend, Luke Skywalker's Amazing Story, Star Wars: Blast Off! and many other terribly written, super-thin beginning reader books about Transformers, Star Wars, Spiderman, Ninjago, and other characters who deserve books that are at least a little bit better. If your kid is into these worlds, though, the encyclopedias are the way to go. Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary has been with us for at least three years (at one time it helped my son get over his fear of going to bathroom -- our deal was that I'd read it to him while he sat on the toilet) and we still continue to return to it.
and, of course, Captain Underpants and Commander Toad

2014 Ulysses book club

Yes, the James Joyce Ulysses. I've been wanting to do a musical book club for it and I finally finally have some co-readers.

Here's the basic plan if you'd like to join us:

- We'll read the Gabler edition

- We'll read two episodes a month. You can find a guide to the episodes here: Following this guide you should read to page 30 by the end of January. That's doable, right?

- We'll have meetings online and in person. If you're able to meet in person in the NYC area we'll sing songs that show up in the text (this is the whole reason I'm doing the club).

That's it! Get to reading. I hope you're as excited as I am.