June 30th, 2005


Father-Sons day

So after putting our heads together, we decided on a multi-borough movie/archery fest.

We started off heading into Manhattan to catch March of the Penguins at the Angelika. It's a great movie - basically a documentary on penguins, but with some great footage, and Morgan Freeman narrating. The kids liked it a lot, and if I hadn't been so incredibly tired I'd have really enjoyed it too. (I enjoyed the parts I stayed awake for.) It's a documentary so it's a bit slow, but they got some amazing shots and a lot of really cute ones, too, especially of the baby penguins.

After that, we headed into Brooklyn and got food at McDonald's and saw Mad Hot Ballroom (MHB) at BAM. MHB was great - really. It's another documentary, but it's about NYC kids (10-12 year olds) who learn how to ballroom dance and participate in this city-wide annual competition. They follow several schools' teams, some of whom are clearly better than others, and you get to see them not only learning how to dance, but also how they do through the tournament. Probably the best part, though (and the scenes of them learning and competing are actually great, the kids really want it and love it and it really comes through the screen) are the little candid interviews and conversations with the kids themselves - about life, love, growing up, what the dancing means, whatever. A lot of the scenes are just conversations the kids are having with their friends, prompted (I presume) by the filmmakers - and they're really honest, and touching. They also interview the teachers and such involved in the program, including one who is so touched by what it means to the kids that she starts crying on camera. A lot of the kids are living in lousy areas of town, some don't even speak English, and many were "troubled" kids - i.e. in the principal's office every day, everyone expecting them to end up on the streets, but since joining the program they've pulled themselves together. If you hadn't guessed, it's about a lot more than just the dancing, in the end, but either way, it's a great movie. The kids even enjoyed it, and it was almost 2 hours long, and they usually won't sit still that long even for a kids movie, so you know they obviously got something right.

After MHB, we hopped on the C and then the A and went to the archery range in Ozone Park, over in Queens (north of JFK). The kids loved it, they were so excited, as I thought they would be. I spent maybe an hour helping them shoot, and then the last 30 minutes or so shooting with them, and it was a lot of fun for us all. I was too tired (in multiple ways) to really focus, so my shots were a bit all-over-the-place, but we had a good time, which was the point. M, especially, was surprisingly good! That little 5 year old was not only able to grasp the mechanics of it almost instantly, but he actually placed almost every shot on the paper - not all of them inside the rings, but even hitting the paper from 8 yards (or whatever it was) was an accomplishment for a 5 year old. I was really impressed. J did ok - he started off strong, but his shots were actually getting worse as time went on. Maybe he was over-thinking it, or maybe he was just getting tired. It's hard to say. Anyways, both kids loved it, and the people there loved having the kids there I think (based on their reactions), and I think the three of us will definitely be back. ;)

Anyways, after that we came back, got back maybe 10 pm, and they're in bed now, and I'm heading to bed soon myself, I think. Good finish to the day, even if the morning started off a bit... less than perfectly. I'm going to miss those kids. :/ But at least we got (most of) a day together before they leave for their mom's place. Ah well. I'll see them again in a couple of weeks.