Seen on Saturday morning: July 12th

July 12, 2008 9:04:14 AM PDT

Fans are raving about the new off- Broadway show "East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player."

It chronicles a young man's coming of age in the 1970s in Oakland.

Joining us this morning is the writer, producer, director and only actor in the play, Don Reed.

East 14th chronicles a young man's coming-of-age in 1970s Oakland as he struggles to find out who he is in a world of religious fanatics, pimps, players, hustlers and streetwalkers. In this autobiographical tale, Reed chronicles escaping an ultra strict upbringing, going out of his way to be something that he wasn't, and eventually, learning to keep it real.

When did you first start working on the play?
I first started working on the play back in 1999 when I helped a friend finish his one-man show. I didn't finish because I was afraid to do it. In 2003, I wrote the whole thing out, but it still took me another three years to finish it. In 2006 I began to perform. It was originally supposed to run for 5 weeks, but ended up running for 5 months.

How much of the play is true?
All of it! A better question to ask, however, is "how much did I leave out?" There is so much more to tell.

What's the overlying theme of the play?
"Despite the extremes presented in one's life, you still have the choice and should still choose to be yourself."

You play over 20 characters - how do you not get them mixed up? How do you keep them distinct?
I have vocal and physical triggers. I use my own voices and a deeper registry of characters as vocal and physical triggers. I use these queues to remind me to adjust my voice.

You dance in the play quite a bit - do you have any formal dance training?
Yes. Let me do some dancing for you right now to prove it. I studied jazz dance Chabot College, and studied modern dance at UCLA. But most of it is complete street freestyle; hybrids of the Hustle and the Robot.

Who are the main characters from the play?
Me when I was younger when everyone called me Blinky. My father, my brother Darrell who had 4,263 girlfriends, and my brother Tony who had 4,263 boyfriends.

Who is Troutmouth?
Troutmouth was one of my father's friends who, for a fee, would get temporary girlfriends for people. We never called Troutmouth to his face, but he always held his mouth like 'this'. He also had a very distinctive laugh.

Who is Wadell?
Wadell IS a kid who I hung out with. He was the only kid I knew with more ticks and habits than I had. He used to jump, blink AND spit.

Who is steakface?
Steakface is one of my father's girlfriend's sons. His face was flat and wide, and he was a pyromaniac. - what can we find there?
You will find some mini clips from the show. You will see reviews that are shiny. There are bonus short stories to give you a peek of the show. You can see stills from live performances. You can submit your email to receive updates. Ticket buying information so you can buy tickets, you can spend your money to buy tickets, you can get the tickets because that is where the ticket buying is!!!! Stop what you are doing and go buy some tickets now.


It's a delicate balance, providing your children with extracurricular activities without running them and yourself, ragged.

Joining us this morning with tips is author of "You're a good mom (and your kids aren't so bad either)" Jen Singer.

How did motherhood get to be so competitive?
It started with the very first Baby on Board sticker, most likely stuck on a 1985 Volvo. Since then, our society went child centric - and a little crazy, too. We've raised the motherhood bar so impossibly high, we can't reach it. We drive our kids to not one, not two, but three activities and sports in a week - sometimes in a day. We use flash cards at stop lights and play music for our kids in utero. (Have you ever tried to listen to music underwater? It sounds all wrong.)

So that makes them feel like slacker moms?
And then we give up, and eventually, we're serving donuts for dinner and letting our kids watch Desperate Housewives, because it's easier than sending them to bed. But that's bad for our kids, and trying to be a Super Mom is bad for us. There's a sweet spot in between where you can raise good kids without losing yourself.

How can moms find that spot in between the Super Mom and the Slacker Mom?
The first secret to finding happiness in 21st century motherhood is to realize that Super Mom is faking it and Slacker Mom isn't as cool as she appears to be. The town über mom probably only gets to put her feet up at the gynecologist's office. The rest of the time, she's frantically trying to make perfect kids in her perfect house. She's exhausted and her kids are, too.

The cool mom, on the other hand, has no idea what her kids are up to while she sucks down Diet Cokes and watches like-minded women on Moment of Truth. And now that there are web sites where kids as young as eight can build a virtual bimbo, breast implants and all, that's pretty darn scary.

Don't you have to sign them up for lots of activities just to keep up with everyone else?
Here's one of my tips: Don't be a frequent flyer. In other words, you don't have to fill out all those flyers for karate and drama camp and math enrichment just because they come home with your kids. Pick one or two activities that your children are excited about, and sign up for those. And - I know this one is hard in the age of travel sports - let your kids play one sport per season, especially if they're under 10. It'll be easier on them and on the mileage of your mini-van.

What one tip would you give moms who are trying to find happiness?
Use triage. Pick out only those things that are truly important to you and your family, and aim for those. Take volunteering jobs that allow you to see your kids, like being a Cub Scouts den leader or escorting on the class trip. Build in playtime to your calendar - for the kids and for you. Move the computer into the family room so you can see what your kids are doing online. Then let everything that's less important go. Really, do you have to bake cupcakes for your child's birthday celebration at school when the bakery will do that for you?

Do you think you're a good mom?
It depends on the day! When my kids were toddlers, I used to feel guilty for folding laundry instead of entertaining them, even though I was spending upwards of 100 hours a week with them as a full-time at-home mom. I thought I had to constantly create teachable moments in order to prepare them for the future. But I really needed to teach them independence and self sufficiency. I'm not going to be there to help them pick out lunch or manage homework at college, after all. A good mom gets her kids ready for life on their own - and prepares herself for life without her kids.

Jen Singer is the creator of, a Forbes Best of the Web community for mothers. She is the author of You're a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren't So Bad Either) (Sourcebooks, April 2008), and the creator of Please Take My Children to Work Day, a holiday for at-home moms held annually in June that has been declared by governors in twelve states to date. She writes the Good Grief: A Tale of Two Tweens blog for Good which is syndicated at Yahoo Shine. She lives in northern New Jersey with her husband, two boys and what appears to be a bucket of worms.

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We have some tips on how to enjoy your summer vacation, without breaking the bank.

Joining us this morning with travel savings tips is travelocity senior editor Genevieve Shaw Brown.

You say travelers can save $500 on their next vacation -- How?
They can in 4 easy steps:

1. Book a package. Bundling your airfare, hotel, and any other extras together saves you $240 on average.

2. Pack light, pack smart. All six major carriers charge $25 to check a second piece of luggage and four charge $15 for the first piece of cheeked baggage . . . do your best to carry on only. Savings: $50

3. BYOF - Bring your own food. Most airlines don't have free food on domestic flights, but they will gladly sell you a snack for about $5. Bring your own better, healthier food and just take the free beverage. Savings: $10

4. Maximize time and pay less: Planning to fly out Friday night? Fly out Saturday morning instead. With the average price of a US hotel room topping $100 according to Smith Travel Research, you might want to consider taking that early morning flight instead of paying the full rate to sleep just a few hours at your hotel. Then on your return date, request a late checkout and when you finally have to check out, leave your bags with the front desk and enjoy a full day's worth of beach going or sightseeing, because your taking an evening flight home. Savings: $200

For travelers on a strict budget, what kind of vacation do you recommend? - all inclusive resorts are great because they make it easy to set a budget and stick to it. They come in every price range -- from budget to luxe -- and include not only your lodging and every meal, but alcohol, nightly entertainment, and kids clubs at family resorts. Check out the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Barbados for a great selection and I'm seeing great deals right now too -- for example, at the Cancun Palace all-inclusive kids under 12 stay and eat for free this summer.

What if you haven't booked a summer vacation yet and you still really want to get away -- are there any good options for New York-area residents? While it might be hard to snag a low airfare this late into the summer, the great news for local residents is that we're in a port city -- so think about cruising and eliminating the airfare all together. I'm seeing great deals on cruises right now -- 6-nt Bahamas cruises from $699 per person, that's $117 per night for lodging, food, and entertainment -- plus added bonuses like ship credits and free upgrades. An excellent value for people looking for a last-minute getaway this summer.

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