Category Archives: “Blue’s Clues”

Chop Suey

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I remember a bygone day of listening to musicals

on my parents’ stereo. There was a Chinese love

story, called “Flower Drum Song.” This was taken

from a book written in 1957, made into a musical

by the famed duo of Rodgers and Hammerstein. The

film version was done in 1961, with Gene Kelly

playing a stage director. Themes of assimilation of

Chinese immigrants into our American culture, a

teenager’s rebellion, and an intergenerational

family living in China Town was popular on Broadway.

As time passed, it left the stages of Broadway and off

Broadway, until it was rewritten and made into a newer

production in 2002.

The same songs were kept with ‘tweaks’ in the character

development. It has been awhile since I have heard this

musical but some of the songs were very enchanting!

I sometimes wonder, how this would hold up to the

test of time!

Does anyone remember “Flower Drum Song?”

The real recipe for a Chinese dish of Chop Suey may

include meat(s), eggs, a starchy sauce, with vegetables.

These can include thinly sliced carrots, celery, bean

sprouts and other Asian vegetables. I would like to

have a bowl of this right now!

Another musical I was captured by the story behind

the book,”Anna and the King of Siam.” On stage, it

became “The King and I.” Yul Brynner did a wonderful

acting job in this, as did Deborah Kerr, in the movie

version. This was based on the autobiographical story

about a nanny for the king, who does fall for her over

time. They never ‘consummate’ their relationship but

are friends, conversationalists and until he passes

away, the one woman the King admires for her ‘brains!’

Anyway, “Chop Suey” was a fun loving song in the first

musical that I listed. This is going to be a post that

includes the many ways ‘chop’ or ‘chopped’ can be used.

This began, on a winter’s night, while my two grandsons

were over visiting. I was watching on my tiny, old t.v.

(it has a VCR unit in it!)on one side of my apartment the

show, “American Idol.” I enjoy watching this more than

“The Voice,” “The Singing Bee,” and “America’s Got Talent.”

This year, with Harry Connick, Jr. playing a bit of the

‘tough judge’ role, Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban, is

going very well! I have seen at least three young singers

who I would choose, without further training or coaching,

to be my “next American Idol.” There is a lot of raw

talent out there in America (and the world, too!)

While watching this, my two grandsons were across the

room watching on my bigger flat screen television two

shows. They were alternating between Nick, Jr. (which

has some of the younger one’s favorites like “Diego,”

“Blue’s Clues,” and “Bob the Builder.”) He will honestly

watch other shows, like “Dora,” and the girly ones with

me, too. The older one is starting to like Disney’s

‘teen-oriented’ shows and will study how to date, how to

tip a bucket over a person’s head and she will still

like you. With other silly premises and pranks that

those shows have. I wish I could tell you that it is

above his head, but I do remember my brothers and I

watching, “Beach Blanket Bingo” and other Annette

Funicello with handsome actor, Frankie Avalon movies.

We seemed to enjoy the rather silly plotlines and the

innocent sexual innuendoes, along with the flirtatious

atmosphere of people barely clothed. (That was made back

in 1965!)

I exclaimed about one of the younger female singers

who had done an excellent performance of singing

Adele’s song, “Chasing Pavement.” I said,

“That young girl has some ‘chops’ on her!”

When Skyler came over to see what I was talking

about, he half kiddingly said, “I like pork ‘chops,’

but what are you talking about, Nana?”

I came back with,

“Well, in Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts

says, “‘Chop’ off her head!”

And Sky, teasingly went along with this word play,

joining in with more,

“My Mom ‘chops’ apples and my Dad ‘chops’ onions!”

Micah came over and noticed our voices being animated,

wondered,

“Do you mean that ‘chops’ can be for food? I thought

you were talking about karate ‘chops!'”

Skyler says, “I wish you could make us some ‘chopped’

steak and enjoy it with some ‘chopped’ peppers.

I replied,

“In the month of February, you will learn about George

Washington who was so honest he confessed he was the

one who ‘chopped’ down the cherry tree.”

He scoffed and shook his head,

“I already knew that, Nana!”

I thought a moment and said,

“I bet you didn’t know that a ‘chop shop’ was a

car garage that takes stolen auto parts and fixes

cars up to be resold for a profit!”

The all knowing Sky answered,

“Since you never play video games, you probably

don’t know about Grand Theft Auto!”

I came back with a feeble attempt, I was losing

this battle of words…

“When I used to want to get my hair cut, a botched

up job would make me say my hair got…” (pause)

and Sky finished the thought,

“‘Chopped!'”

I told Skyler since my show was back on, that the

only way I had heard of ‘chops’ in the musical

world was when someone really belted out a song,

gave it their all and it came out sounding wonderful.

That the use of ‘chops’ was a compliment. I promised

I would check Wikipedia to give him the root meaning

of how this word came about…

On Urban Dictionary, the slang term, ‘chops’ means good

singing ability or singing talent; he/ she can truly

sing. Here, I thought that there may be a little bit of

a reference to the fact that in the olden days, when

men grew their sideburns out, they were called, ‘mutton

chops.’ Thinking that almost went with the throat area

where belting a song out would come. I did find that

this did get included in the free online reference

dictionary where the jowls of a person are meant to

indicate the ability of a jazz artist or musician to

sing loudly and well. There was another reference to

Louis Armstrong, who could sing well and use his

musical ‘chops’ in playing the trumpet, too.

Lastly, as I will call my grandson tonight to tell

him my findings, I thought of my youngest brother

pecking away on the piano, practicing (you may have

guessed the ending!):

“‘Chop’ Sticks!”

“Blue’s Clues” lesson for the day!

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If you are a parent of a preschooler, a grandparent of one, or are a

teacher of younger children you will recognize the titled female dog

named “Blue.” Which, just to be funny do you remember Johnny Cash’s

silly song, “A Girl Named Sue?” For some reason, that crossed my mind

as I wrote that first sentence!

I love the way the young man who is not animated, Steve, relates

to the dog, “Blue” and all the lessons you can learn from the way

they carry out their conversations with Blue barking and Steve

interpreting his barks. What a lovely way to show communication

between animals and owners.

I enjoy hearing the interactions and seeing the hidden pictures

that the kids react to,  usually including three “clues” of paw prints

given on each show. I like to hear my grandkids getting involved;

sometimes yelling at the screen, “Look over there!” or “It is green!”

in equal parts enthusiasm and confidence in knowing the answer

to the questions given. It is interactive, as many of the younger shows

are created with learning “sound bytes,” inserted in amongst the

fun and animation. There is also “Magenta,” Blue’s best girlfriend

and the boy cat named “Periwinkle.” There are others like the

“Shovel,” “Pail,” “Mailbox,” and clock, known as “Tickety Tock.”

Steve has a younger brother, Joe, and the “cutest family ever,”

as Marley is known to exclaim, is Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper with

their baby daughter who still sucks on a bottle or pacifier, her

adorable name is “Paprika.”

Today, before making pancakes, scrambled eggs and hash browns,

my three overnight visitors were disparate in age grandkids. Kyah

(age 2 and 1/2), her older brother, Landen (age 8 since October) and

Micah, their cousin, (age 4 and 1/2). The “rule” is first one up in my

house (apt.) gets to choose the show. Kyah chose, “Blue’s Clues” on

Nickelodeon, Jr. or Nick, Jr., a creation of two women and a man

that are also the producers. Their teamwork makes a very well

rounded show, I think.

Their Lesson for the Day was about art! Right up my “alley!”

I sat drinking some coffee to learn the lesson and listen to the

beginning banter. It had three different styles of artwork, all

different techniques and interestingly enough, educational

at a higher level than preschool.

First picture was a “realistic” one or “natural setting” of a fish

in a seaweed and watercolor painting. The children were told

to, “find the fish!” That one was easy to see and the style was

emphasized as “Realism.”

The second picture was one with crayons and paint which if

you were to implement it, you would call it “crayon resist

painting.” Do you remember how you would make a picture

and the art teacher would emphasize filling the parts with

the crayon using a “heavy hand?” Then, the second part you

would paint over it with your watercolor box. Sometimes,

younger children leave too many ‘holes’ in the drawings,

but this can also make it ethereal and like stained glass, too.

This painting had a hidden fish or two and the style used

was called, “Impressionistic.” (Wow! I thought!) Landen

even was saying he was not sure he had heard of that “big

word before,” when I asked him if he could say the word

back to me.

The third kind of artwork that Steve utilized in the lessons

was gluing squares of tissue paper to produce a seaside

scene of water, seaweed or underwater plant life with

a fish. This one you could see the fish the easiest of the

three. Steve declared this a “Mosaic” and emphasized how

the squares became able to be identified more, the farther

away you moved from the picture. I liked this idea of giving

the children a lesson in perspective, too!

They were allowed to drink chocolate milk and we switched

to one of my favorite cartoons, which is kind of scary for Kyah’s

age but she is the youngest of four children, so she is unfortunately

exposed to much more than the isolated, unitiated “first child.”

It was “Scooby Dooby Doo” and I sang the song from the kitchen

while getting them cups of chocolate milk to keep them satisfied

while I made a pile of silver dollar pancakes. This time my silly

creation was a “ghost pancake.” I am not sure if I have ever shared

this, but usually one misshapened pancake is not only ‘oohed’

and ‘aahhed’ but I purposely label it one thing or another. Just to

keep the fun going, on a simple level.

This was a fun morning and I was glad to have my oldest daughter

appear to have a cup of coffee, (Butter rum from my friend, Jenny)

and take Micah off, he had a Boy Scout Nature Hike to go to with

Skyler, who Carrie had to head to her ex’s house and pick up to

attend.  I sent her home with pretzels and the rest of the gummy

bears.

I got Landen and Makyah ready by enlisting their help to complete

the “clean up” chore, while I sang the “Clean Up” song. They know

I am constantly following behind them, after we played golf, after

we played Dominoes, after the hide and seek, while they slept I

put away the flashlights, etc. No one dares complain or I am hard

to the core, I ask them in a kind of mean way, “Do you want to

come back and spend the night? Then, shape up and clean up!”

I am really a ‘marshmallow’ but the harsh tone does prevent, for

the most part, laziness and sloppy guest etiquette!

Hope this post will make you smile and enjoy your week!