Monday, December 31, 2007

Man vs. Child

While it may appear from the topics of the majority of "posts" thus far that this is a "parenting blog," let me assure you that it is not intentional; rather, it is most likely the byproduct of my recent status as a "tele-commuter" which has put me in close proximity to my offspring on a more regular basis than when I was simply a "-commuter." Hence, things related to the raising of human children have been on my brain more often, which is odd considering I've been a parent going on 15 years, now, but not so odd when you consider that when Noah was around the ages of Leo and Nick (6 and 4, respectively), "blogging" was in its infancy, and "parent-blogging" was, thankfully, not even invented yet, let alone codified by the New York Times as a cultural phenomenon worth ruining. If things were different then, oh the torrent of totally unique thoughts on parenthood you would have seen pour forth from my keyboard. I guess you can consider yourself lucky.

Anyway, while I was at the park today with the aforementioned Leo and Nick, we played hide and seek, wherein I seeked, pretending to not see them and vocalizing that fact, which of course built up so much suspense in them that they could no longer hold it as they burst into laughter, leaping from their totally obvious hiding place and shouting, "That was a good hiding spot, huh!" Just one of the many instances in which we let our kids win. So, for your reading pleasure, I present some common parenting scenarios as they would go down if we, the parents, used all the faculties available to us as adults against the pitifully limited faculties of our young offspring.

Hide and Seek

Parent: "OK, go and hide."

(Children scamper off and hide behind a young sapling roughly 10 feet away, giggling at their ingeniousness, while Parent counts to 20.)

Parent: "OK, ready or not, here I come. BAM! I see you guys, right over there. That twig's not even coming close to concealing you. Jesus, that was easy."

Arm Wrestling

Parent: "OK, get a good grip. There you go. You ready?"

6-Year Old Child: "Yep."

Parent: "All right, 1...2...3...Go!"

(Child loses immediately due to Parent's much larger forearm and greater muscle mass.)

Foot Racing

Child: "He dad, let's race!"

Parent: "OK, we'll line up and when I say "go," we'll race to the next corner."

Child: "OK!"

Parent: "On your marks...get set...GO!"

(Parent immediately takes the lead due to much longer legs and greater muscle mass, beating Child to the corner by a good 10 seconds.)

The Guessing Game

(Child come up to Parent holding a cookie, but it could be any object, that upon first inspection, appears to be intact, but in actuality may or may not be broken.)

Child: "Hey dad, is this cookie broken or not broken."

(Using deductive reasoning, a cognitive skill not yet fully developed in the common 4-year old, Parent immediately comes to the correct conclusion that the cookie is broken, because why else would a person ask such a question?)

Next week...The Game of Checkers...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Faeries Wear Boots (and you better believe, now)

Maybe this will be a series or something, I don't know, but remember 30 minutes ago in the previous post (those were the days, huh?) when I mentioned I'd go into the pros and cons of using the magic of the information superhighway to work from home? You do? Great, so then you can help me determine whether Noah and his friend blasting Mi-Sex* on the living room stereo while I try to code health care websites is a pro or a con. I'm leaning towards the former, but in about 10 minutes, I'm thinking my answer may change.

Oh hey! Nick just walked up and his hands are completely blue thanks to his new Curious George stamps. I would take a picture and slap it up here in accordance with the 2004 Parent-Blogging Summit, but I can't find the damn camera, so you'll just have to dust off your imaginations.

*I know, I had never heard of them either. His friend Danny found this and an old Black Sabbath LP in his grandmother's attic and brought them over.

Fragrant

Since he was about 4, Leo has been confirming his decision to never marry. He did so again this morning as I was typing away at the kitchen table (more on the pros and cons of telecommuting later) and he was doing one of his Christmas puzzles. I asked him if he was going to have girlfriends, then, and he said he wasn't. So I continued, "You're just going to hang out with the guys, then?"

"Yeah," he answered, "until I start to smell."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Untitled #23

Hey, have you heard? It's Christmas time in Hollis, Queens and also in the area I live in. If you look around, I bet it's Christmas time where you live, too. As Mike Huckabee reminds us, the baby Jesus is the reason for the season. God Damn, that guy loves Jesus, mostly on account of Jesus scaring all the extra fat out of his body, but also because he's our Savior and shit. All of us have our favorite Jesus story, and I'm certainly no exception. Mine is this one:
When he hit 48 home runs in one baseball game then he turned some dirt into cocaine and partied like it was the fucking Rapture.
I didn't think of that one, this guy I worked with wrote it in his Myspace, but as it turns out, you can't link to Myspace comments, so I'm quoting it in full here on a proper Web log. Anyway, you have to admit, this Jesus story kicks all the other Jesus stories' asses. I mean, can you imagine how pure that cocaine must have been? Even Robert Evans would be impressed. Then he would have signed Jesus to a multi-picture deal right before getting him laid.

On the serious side, I'm finding my need for ceremony grows stronger with each passing day, and damn it all, the humanists don't have shit to offer in that area. And I like the humanists. I can hang with them, they're usually up on all the latest gadgets and tend to share my political beliefs. Sadly, they're boring as shit and a bit sanctimonious. I'm a card-carrying agnostic (no, I won't show it to you, I was hung over that day and I look like shit) and agnostics are like anarchists in that they don't really have a lot to rally around. The symbolism is sorely lacking, although I'm stumping for an equivalent to the sign of the cross, which would be a simple shoulder shrug. If we're really feeling the agnostic spirit, we'd throw in a head cocked to the side and a closed mouth smile signifying our utter confusion. Instead of "Hallelujah," we'd sing "Who the fuck knows!?"

The new job goeth well so far. It's easy, for one thing, and telecommuting is nice. The money is ridiculous for what I'm doing, it's almost twice as much as I was making at the old coalmine.

Eh, I'm getting bored with typing. Merry Christmas, internet. Here's hoping you get everything you asked for.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Glazed and Confused

I found a $20 bill on the ground the other morning. I was coming out of a donut shop and there it was, folded in half on the ground. I picked it up and walked back into the donut shop to pay for my donuts. About 50 seconds earlier I was searching through my pockets for some cash as the donut shop didn't take ATM cards. The lady behind the counter told me I could pay her next time. As I handed her the 20, she said "Oh, you found some money, huh?" I said, "Yes, I did" but didn't elaborate on how literally accurate she was.

If I believed in a sentient higher being, I'd offer up this incident as proof of his/her existence. Since I don't; or rather, I can't be sure one way or another and tend to favor a more rational view of existence, I offer up this incident as an interesting little anecdote that, since effect does not prove causation, says nothing of God, but does make good blog fodder.

Also, that maple bar was fucking delicious.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sunless

We like to let our Netflix rentals age and cure on top of the entertainment center at least 3 weeks before cracking them open and popping them in the space age machine that allows us to view them. Something about the Central Valley air that really brings out the color. So it was with perhaps my artsy fartsiest rental to date: the Chris Marker double feature of Le Jetee and Sans Soleil.

Here's how it usually goes down with the Netflix: I rent one for the kids, one for the whole family and one art-house flick. We'll burn through the first two in one day while the third will sit curing, as mentioned, unwatched. Like meat on a stick, I'll occasionally pick up the disc, turn it over to read the description, then place it back down.

So yeah, everyone and his fucking annoying college sophmore cousin knows that Le Jette is the movie that Terry Gilliam based 12 Monkeys on. I'd seen it inadvertently years ago on HBO at my parents' house. It's as arresting as I remember, with that one scene of the woman looking up still startling.

I'd never seen Sans Soleil. It's documentary-style footage with a scripted voice-over. The premise is of a woman reading letters from a peripatetic cameraman, mostly ruminations about memory, identity, and the fleeting, amorphous nature thereof.

I was struck by the thought that ceremony is merely an attempt to remember, to grab a piece of time as it rushes by and stake it to the ground and force it to listen and acknowledge you before if wriggles free and continues to mow us all down. That identity is the collection of our memories and that trying to hold on, not to a past event, but just to the subtly morphing MEMORY of a past event, is a slippery business. It's a greased pig; a wriggling, bleating 3-year old who doesn't want to get into his carseat.

There's a scene in the movie of a Japanese ceremony (there are many in the film), I can't remember (ha!) what the occasion was, but during part of the ceremony, the local kids grab big wooden sticks and dance around a figure banging the sticks on the ground. The narrator says he tried to find out the significance of this act, and all anyone could say is that it kept the moles away. That's when Erika (my wife) said that it doesn't really matter what it means, they just probably invented something to keep the kids busy. And she's exactly right. This ceremony, celebrating, enobling the mundane, it's purpose is not to make sense of anything, but to mark the passing of time with the stamp of the people performing the ceremony. And the kids banging sticks, they could be doing anything, the point is to get them involved, to inculcate the importance of remembering together in order to form and pass on their collective memory, their identity, their culture. Culture is simply collective memory.

At the start of the movie, the narrator says something about having been around the world four times and now only the mundane is interesting to him. I've only been out of the country twice and it's always been the mundane that interests me. How do people spend the vast majority of their lives? How do they imbue it with meaning, how do they mark it? How do they remember?

The ceremonies Marker films are all provincial, small, particularly the Japanese ones. Ceremonies about cats, a ceremony where broken dolls are burned in a funeral pyre in order to save their souls. Ceremonies to enoble and mark and remember the mundane.