Wordplay


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This is mainly just a test of the mobile WordPress app but this is an excellent subject for the test. Hanging in NOLA with my good buddy Ignatius.

If you’ve read A Confederacy of Dunces, you know. If not, stop what you’re doing and go pick up the book. A Falstaffian Don Quixote let loose on the Big Easy. Wonderfully hilarious. I’ll stop now so you can go read it. Seriously. Get out of here. Go!

(Oh, there’s even a statue of him in New Orleans. That’s where this was taken.)

istock_000003758518xsmall1Icing on the Cake

My daughter is working on an essay about what we can do to save the planet. Quite possibly the most popular essay topic in every school in the country right now. But that’s not the subject of this story.

She’s a very good writer and that’s not just your average proud papa talk. She’s really good. But this essay is different. It’s part of a district wide contest with the winner at each school receiving a $100 savings bond. My daughter is stressing herself out about winning the thing and I’m trying to do the parent pep-talk thing. Trying to get her to focus on writing and not worry so much about winning or losing.

“Do your best sweetie and the rest will take care of itself. So many factors play into winning or losing so try not to think about it and just do your best.” But I don’t want to completely discount the contest so I add, “If you do your best and you end up winning, it will just be icing on the cake.”

Then I get that look. Eyes squint. Lips purse. The wheels are turning and I’m in trouble. Turns out she has a problem with the well worn idiom Icing on the Cake. Seems pretty simple to me. A little something extra on top of an already good thing. Nice. But the daughter sees it differently. Maybe it says something about the times we live in or maybe it’s just our family but what she asked was this. Who eats cake without icing? To her (and quite honestly to me too) icing is not extra. It’s essential to a cake being a cake.

So she hears the opposite of what I’m trying to say. The cake is not complete without the icing. The essay is not complete without the win. I do my best to rework what I’m trying to get across and explain it a different way but now I’m just mumble-ramblin’. As I leave her room, I close the door and the discussion with, “Just do your best sweetie.”

Part of the beauty of being a dad is having this little slice of me asking questions that I have trouble answering. Looking at even the simplest, idiotic idiom in a brand new way. That is so cool.

So that was a few weeks ago and guess what, I got bailed out on this one. She won the essay competition at her school. The results came in today. I told you she was good. $100 Savings Bond and she’s going down to an awards ceremony at City Hall with the winners from the other schools in the district. She’s so happy she’s glowing. And so am I. Oh, and she’s also getting her picture made with the mayor while she’s there. I guess that’s just icing on the cake.

BLB

Class is In

Skirt Length Theory

There’s a well known (and I believe unfairly mocked) little economic indicator called the “Skirt Length Theory”. A.K.A. the “Hemline Indicator”. I’m not making this up. It’s science.

In a nutshell, it says that if the fashion of the day is trending toward long skirts and dresses, the economy is in a bearish downturn. Bad. But if short skirts are all the rage, the economy is bullish and the milk and honey flow. Good.

So there’s the answer to our current crises. Show some leg. Save the economy. As easy as 2+2 you might say. With all this talk of recession and bailouts, why are we overlooking this important economic tool. Let’s break out the mini skirts and short shorts and get this country moving again. What better way to stimulate the economy and inspire the people.

I realize we’re heading into winter and it’s not exactly bare leg season but in times like these, sacrifices must be made. Perhaps adding fishnets would provide a little warmth. Whatever it takes.

Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. – JFK  (A big fan of short skirts.)

I’ll be doing my part. I’m shaving my legs as I write this. I wonder how short a kilt can get before it turns into a tartan mini skirt?
BLB

Short Skirts and Stocks – From History’s Hidden Engine

MJ Love

Basketball. The smell of old leather and stale sweat. The sound of a hardwood symphony. Piercing squeaks. Booming echos. Ripping nylon. Shouts and grunts and gasping. Hands and elbows and knees. Surface chaos masking an intricate dance. God what a great game.

The season is underway so how about a little Jordan love for old time’s sake. These are three of my favorites but there are many more.

wii_396x320

The Entertainer

We bought a Wii.

I read a report the other day that said the average child spends 4 hours a day watching television and another 2 hours playing video games. The alarms went off in my head. Like that beeping when they test the Emergency Broadcast System. Only this time, it was an Actual Emergency. My kids are below average!

This will not do. They just need to apply themselves a bit more. I know we can get those numbers up. And if they work hard at it, maybe one day they can even be, dare I say it, ABOVE average.

So Julie and I decided to take action. We got them the Wii to go along with the Playstation from last year. Good start. Now we’re considering adding a third television to the home, perhaps in the younger daughter’s bedroom. It will be a sacrifice but we love them that much.

We’ve locked up the bikes, taken away all books and destroyed any toys that don’t require batteries. (Stuffed animals smell funny when they burn.)

But if that’s still not enough, we’re going to look into getting an Xbox and maybe even a TV on the kitchen table so we can watch while eating. Valuable time is being lost at dinner time discussing events of the day and school work. Time that would be better spent on Hannah Montana for sure.

Speaking of school, that’s one of the major obstacles to our plan. We do our best at home but they spend so much time in school that it doesn’t leave enough hours in the day for TV and gaming. But there may be a solution on this front as well. A portable gaming device or two (PSP and/or GameBoy and/or DS) should allow them to catch up during breaks at school. And if they’re careful, maybe they could even sneak in a few games during certain classes. Nobody really uses math or science after graduating anyway.

And as for TV, if we pick up a couple of iPhones, they can catch up on favorite shows while they’re at school. And it will give them a chance to bring up those low texting numbers too. It’s the best of both worlds.

But there’s another obstacle to the master plan. There aren’t really enough kid shows out there to fill all the time necessary to get our numbers up. So it looks like we’ll have to introduce some other shows little by little until they are up to speed. South Park is a cartoon so that should be a good start. The Sopranos is a possibility too. I’ve heard it’s a good family drama.

Oops. Gotta go. Just found out they’re supposed to be getting in 2 hours a day of web surfing in addition to the TV and video games. We may have to pull them out of school. But that’s the price you pay. Parenting is hard work.

BLB

Backyard Camping

Backyard Camping

Backyard Camping

The girls have a Girl Scout camping trip coming up, so we cracked open our tents this weekend to make sure they were still in good shape*. Since the work part was done, we decided it would be a good idea to camp out in the back yard overnight**. Roasting marshmallows and everything***. J1 joined us for the smores but decided since she’ll be camping soon enough with the Scouts, she would sleep in her nice warm bed while me and the younger J’s braved the suburban wilderness****. It was a blast*****.

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*Lest anyone get the idea we are outdoorsy people, the tents have been packed away for almost eight years. A camping trip to Ft. Pickens when J3 was a baby was the last time we had them out.

**It really was a good idea and we did have fun even if these astricies make it seem otherwise.

***Everything meaning marshmallows and sleeping. No ghost stories though. They creep me out. Seriously.

****Actually, I was going to let them sleep out there alone. Two sisters having fun in the great outdoors. But J1 and her mom (Nana J) had visions of rabid foxes and ax wielding psychopaths invading our back yard so I ‘chose’ to camp too.

*****More like a blast of cold air. Temps around 50 degrees in mid April in Florida. What’s up with that? Did I mention we’re not really outdoorsy people. I mean we love being outside and playing and biking and beaching. But when it’s time to sleep, a bed is nice. Is it wrong for a grown man to admit he’s more Eva Gabor than Eddie Albert. ******

******From Green Acres in case you haven’t wasted countless hours of your life watching TV re-runs like I have and are unaware of the great ‘Fresh Air’ vs ‘Times Square’ debate. This page will tell you about it and you get an American Gothic parody to boot.

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I posted this little story over on my photoblog Panhandlin’ a few months back. I’m posting it again here because I’ve been reading Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace and was reminded (purely for the stylistic quirk, not a comparison to the genius of DFW) of the camping story.

I’ve been trying to summon the nerve to tackle the monster Infinite Jest and thought I would start with this volume of essays. If they were sufficiently fun-making I’d try to find time for the epic. Wallace is challenging for me and at times I feel like an idiot but OMG he’s fun. So after I finished CtL, I went online to explore a little more and to decide if I’m up to Infinite Jest.

That’s when I read that just two months ago, David Foster Wallace killed himself. (The NYT article) I guess with my election focus at the time, I missed other news even though it was apparently everywhere. The life of a tortured genius.

So I will pick up Infinite Jest soon even though I may not dive in right away. I have a few other books lined up on the runway. I think Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will be taking off next.

"Horse and Riders" by Allan Teger

"Horse and Riders" by Allan Teger

Bodyscapes

There’s a wonderful yearly event here in Pensacola called the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival. We all went down on this near perfect fall day and had a great time taking in all the sights and sounds.

An artist named Allan Teger once again brought himself and his Bodyscapes work to the festival. His booth always gets attention and usually makes smiles. That’s one of his more tame photos above. As his website says:

Allan Teger’s wonderful photographs of the human body
prove that art can be fun and serious at the same time.

In years past we’ve hustled the girls past his booth and tried to distract them a bit just to avoid awkward questions about naked people with small toy figures attached to them. But the girls have gotten older now so this time we chose a different approach. Julie and I gave each other a little look signaling we were thinking the same thing. Let’s see what they say when they see the prints. We slowed down while walking past the booth.

The Revealing Argument post a while back was a funny ha-ha but as I said then, there is a long and respected tradition of nude images in photography, not to mention sculpture and painting. The daughters are getting to an age where an appreciation of art consists of more than just finger painting and they will be seeing the nude human form as we visit museums and galleries so I’d like a certain level of maturity from them about the subject. (Certainly more maturity than I had about the subject when I was their age.) We may be a few years away from seeing David in person but I’d like for them not to be too distracted by the lack of a fig leaf.

Not that Mr. Teger is Michelangelo and not that this isn’t a little awkward because these are my daughters but Julie and I want to be fine, open-minded, progressive parents and in fine, open-minded, progressive parent circles, this is what is known as a “teaching moment”.

So we slow down going past the Bodyscapes booth. It takes a minute but then it hits my older daughter what she’s seeing. Her nose crinkles hard and a look of disgust flashes across her face. I know it’s a look of disgust because she says in a shouted whisper, “That’s disgusting!”

Julie and I fight back laughter. Let the teaching begin. We walk on and I start a defense/speech about this being “art” and that there’s a long and respected tradition and that the human body is not a disgusting thing.

She’s not buying it. She just keeps her nose crinkled and says, “Dad, some parts of it ARE disgusting.” You know, maybe it’s best if we just leave it at that for now. Small steps. “Hey look,” I say. “There’s a beautiful painting of a sunset over there.”

Turns out it was a “teaching moment” and as usual, I’m the one getting taught.
BLB

(For more of Allan Terer’s work visit Bodyscapes.com)

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