Star Wars action figures in the snow. This is all part of an ongoing movie that BB is imagining. There are no set ups anymore, only movie scenes.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Star Wars action figures in the snow. This is all part of an ongoing movie that BB is imagining. There are no set ups anymore, only movie scenes.
The kids might be having a moment of melt down, both screaming in their own key, developing the narcissism that will sustain their lives, and AO and I look at each other, give a small crude bent of the hip or blink of the eye to each other, and we know that something is still intact. I have to say that it's a physical thing that nurtures our relationship. If I had to depend on an intellectual relationship of shared affinities and thoughts, challenges of mind and logic, I'd really be nowhere - with anyone. It's our shared pleasure, our joy in simply confirming the life that we're able to affirm in each other, that really keeps us together. If it has anything to do with an intellectual process, our love is based on a shared aesthetic, which moves from books and movies to sexuality and emotions. Plus, she smells good. Life with kids is particularly hard, but maybe it forces us to find those moments in between our attention to the kids to sharpen our awareness of each other.
In any case, pre-Valentine sentiments notwithstanding, AO is my punk girl, my messy artist, my guide to movement in space and time.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
AO has taken numerous photos of this set up and another involving a temple looking thing. The best part, for me, is the confluence of creatures from many imaginary worlds (or franchises). We've got a winged transformer type creature standing guard, a pokemon up above, and star wars trooper next to that. Other photos show an eagle creeping around the ramparts in full outspread American aggressiveness.
BB took his own lunch today. Because its been so cheap, we've had him getting school lunches. But he's been having trouble with a bully type in the cafeteria, so he brought his lunch to give him a few more options. He won't have to stand in line, for one thing. It seems that he regularly sits with a crew of boys, but this bully (a big but smart boy in his class) decided that BB sits there too much, so late last week he kept getting kicked off the table and had to go sit alone. "Life is cruel," I want to say, "but feel the force young voyager."
Last Friday also turned out to be a stressful ride home. He had a sub driving the bus. In the morning, this substitute driver came and picked them up going the wrong way on the route. You figure, though, what can go wrong? Well . . . after school BB showed up in front of the house on the verge of tears, just about when I mosey on down to the corner. It seems that the older kids from his stop decided to get off about five or six blocks away. In a panic, I'm guessing, he got off too and started hoofing it after them. He knows the way, but its the farthest he's ever been from home without an adult, so even though one of the older kids kept track of him it induced some anxiety. He had a good cry about all these things and then a weekend of set ups began. I hope he's doing OK at school today.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Why Can't We Be Friends (War)
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
ANYWAY. He wondered why MLK had been killed. He wanted to know what a minister is (I know, I know, we're raising a secular kid)? How people are leaders without being president? Why was he "historical"? I talked about leadership, civil rights, religion, and why we're opposed to gun ownership and watching violence on TV. It was a satisfying conversation.
AO works early on Tuesday, so I had the kids on my own in the morning. Usually, I get BB up before LB, get him fed, and then get LB up and dressed. Yesterday, BB came in with me to wake up LB (who, by the way, is sleeping soundly in OUR bed). BB woke him up gently and cuddled with him. LB, at eighteen months, is a great cuddler. In any case, this put them both in a very groovy mood. The panic at 8:20 to get to the bus stop on time is always hard (missing gloves, coats in the wrong place, no book in the back pack), but things went as smooth as silk yesterday.
LB continues to sleep in our bed. He wouldn't have it any other way. The other night he wasn't sleepy, so there we were trying to get him settled at midnight or so. He kept saying, "bottom," "bottom," and showing us the soles of his feet. It was hard not to laugh, which kept him awake that much longer. For some reason he's also been saying something like, "bubba (brother) has a mouth." Yep, he does indeed.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
you never go back," Stephen Colbert joked the other night. He was interviewing the author of Love and Sex with Robots on the Colbert Report about a new book on forming emotional attachments to robots. If my recent exposure to Second Life is any indication, some people are already forming attachments to avatars, which are more machine than human, in my opinion. From the reviews (Washington Post, for example) I've briefly glimpsed at, it seems like the author, David Levy, is more concerned with the mechanics of the interaction, imagining sex bots and new sex techniques, than he is with the emotion. As humans become increasingly more posthuman, I think the real transformation will be when robots themselves can fall in love with us - at which point, they'll probably just want to fall in love with each other. It does bring up all kinds of philosophical issues about free will and programming, which is as much an issue of how much free will (or determinative programming) we think humans have. To create sex bots, it will mean that we are capable of seeing ourselves as sex bots.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
The soundtrack is very wise. The movie name drops groups like Sonic Youth and Mott the Hoople, but I swooned when incidental music included The Kinks and Cat Power. The best song is something by the Moldy Peaches, which ends the movie. Anyone Else But You. Here's what I found on YouTube.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Pamphleteer, aka "Little Brother," is a propaganda robot which distributes subersive literature. Pamphleteer is designed to bypass the social conditioning that inhibits activists' ability to distribute propaganda by capitalizing on the aesthetics of cuteness. The robot's form references a tradition of robot aesthetics developed in science fiction and popular media.
They also have robots that do sidewalk graffiti and roadway stenciling of your urgent subversive text.
[Thanks boing boing.]
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
LB said a complete sentence yesterday, with a subject and verb. "You come to play," he said to another kid's parent. He's been having some happy days at daycare and switching his allegiances. Yesterday, BB got a welcome hug instead of me, and then they both sat down to read for 10 minutes before I coaxed them to leave. LB just loves books right now. BB, on the other hand, builds bigger and bigger contraptions around the house, incorporating all the biggest toys. It's all brought together with tape. We should do a photo series on DIY tape work.
I wrote about 1000 words today, which is much better than I've been doing this week. Boing boing has a post about a sci fi writer who wrote a book in eight weeks. That's 2000 words a day, with some "10,000 word days." OK, so I'm not doing the kind of writing that lends itself to 10,000 word days, but it's gives me hope that I can get my last chapter done in the next eight weeks (and revise my introduction, etc., etc.). I don't think I'm going to get a call back for any jobs at this point, but, honestly, it would be a disaster for my progress to travel somewhere right now.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
For one thing, they perform live as robots. In the first video, what I notice most of all is the monumentalism of their set, the pyramids, symmetrical lights, their elevation above the crowd. The monumentalism is enhanced by the frenzy of the audience, and the music itself seems like a blast to dance to. Also, listen to the tones before the set begins; I think they're from 2001 Space Odyssey. Be patient, the set isn't fully clear until about two minutes in.
It seems to me that they are parodying the spectacle of most live pop music these days. In another clip, the song continues by flashing HUMAN, HUMAN over and over. What does Human Robot, the title of the song, mean? And what becomes of the humans who see HUMAN, HUMAN flashed repeatedly in front of them as they experience the affect of the crowd? It looks and sounds like they've become part of one big machine. Where is the human, one might ask?
The second video, Technologoic, is more traditional. The lyrics hilariously spoof what we do daily on our computers and I love the look of the demon robot child.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
More sixties disillusionment. I've alway liked the movie "Two-Lane Blacktop," a counterculture road movie that defied the conventions (new even then) for celebrating alienation and outsider status. Although it starred outre pop culture figures like James Taylor and Warren Oates, nothing much happens in "Two-Lane." They rumble down the road (called only The Driver and The Mechanic), have brief mumbled exchanges, and pretty much think only about how to keep the car running. AO and I recently saw it again by happenstance, and apparently a lot of others have recently watched it. (It's being released as a Criterion DVD.) What I didn't know that at the time of its release it was hyped as the next Easy Rider, but then went on to fail miserably as a commercial movie. A recent Slate review explains the movie's appeal.
"Unlike its contemporaries, Two-Lane Blacktop wasn't a sentimental celebration of restless youth. Refusing to play to its demographic, it offered an abstract and diffident vision of the counterculture. Unlike The Graduate, it didn't romanticize youthful disaffection; unlike Bonnie and Clyde, there was no cathartic violence; unlike Easy Rider, there was little sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Yet the reasons moviegoers rejected it at the time—its skepticism and rigor—are the same reasons the film, released this month on DVD by the Criterion Collection, has emerged as one of the great movies of Hollywood's last golden age." Link
Now I have a better idea why I found the movie so appealing. It's even more objectless than something like Rebel Without a Cause or even Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. The Slate reviewer argues that Two-Lane Blacktop's real meaning is in its aestheticism - which seems about right, especially if you like the roaring engine and blinking sun of a 10-minute take of natural light and sound in a muscle car. The "melting film strip" at the end also tends to make film fetishists swoon.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
This dates me, of course, to what were, for me, the glorious late eighties. It's odd, though. Then, this music seemed so outre; now, it seems pretty tame. Still, the music and video has a real appealing aesthetic.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
The five things (his book is about 50 things):
1. Play with fire
2. Keep a pocket knife
3. Throw a spear
4. Deconstruct an appliance
5. Drive a car and (!) Violate copyright
I'm amused, but he does have a point. Take a look.
I have to say that we started out being somewhat overprotective of BB, but we've loosened up a lot. You can't really hold back an energetic boy. What I really fear is him darting out into traffic or something random like that. Cars seem so lethal to me. I'd much rather give him a spear to chuck, in controlled conditions. I have to say that I myself have in recent years found my inner boy with four and five and a half - I've recently taken apart a few of our appliances (not always successfully) and become an afficionado of bittorrent.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
I sent a revised piece off today. This is work based on my last chapter (or, my first, but the one I'm working on). This is for a conference in February. Papers go off early to the moderators for comments. I was supposed to have turned it in by Christmas, so it's good to have it finally in the mail. I like what I'm doing right now, but, as was evident in a job interview, this chapter isn't blending so well with my other chapters. The post office was crazy, by the way. People resyncing with reality. I was there with BB, who was sweet but a little fidgety.
Every time the phone rings we wonder if it's about a job. I actually don't expect anything to come out of the job search this year. It could happen, and we're prepared for it, but we have to remain realistic. When a call does come it could be a request for a campus visit or to gently let me down. Generally, I almost always let the machine pick up, and it's this capability, I think, that keeps me from relying solely on voice mail. But I've been picking up every call this week. When the phone rings, we exchange significant looks, and then I answer very officiously. Pause. Telemarketers, of course. What's worse, they are alumni association calls, like we've made the middle-class big time and are ready to give to the alma mater.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
For some reason LB calls every image of Yoda (the withered Jedi Knight in Star Wars) "momma." Without fail he points and yells "momma." I think this can be distinguished from Mommum, which he calls his real mother. But things might be beginning to blur in his mind. I suppose Yoda has a certain maternal look. And it makes sense to see Yoda standing in for Luke's absent mother rather than his father. His father, after all, is very much alive.
BB and I went to the library this afternoon. To attest to his mania, we came away with four very detailed Stars Wars books. These are called "cross-section" books, opening up and exposing the inner workings of buildings, cities, and vehicles. Entire books dedicated to one movie's vehicles, ad nauseum. Although I have already for trains, parrots, and dinosaurs, I am still surprised how I, the reading parent, must sink myself into the minutiae of Star Wars. It's so bad, LB is going to begin thinking that Luke is his real brother.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
As a sometime academic, I'm neither of these types. I do like to have a general sense of the drift of middle-brow culture, and I watch a little TV every night. But in this period of no Daily Show to put a humorous spin on tragedy, I find myself flailing about for popular culture. Project Runway. Mythbusters. They sort of fill in the gap. Both are reality shows, but both require real skill and commitment. They really make stuff, some of it beautiful, on Project Runway. And Mythbusters may not do good science, but at least they try to have some kind of control in every experiment. Plus, they have a sort of Burning Man, San Francisco street cred.
Narrative TeeVee, even without the strike, has jumped the shark, in my opinion. There is a dead body in everything dramatic on TeeVee, as though we all really were closet murderers - like many video games suggest. I don't actually think this is true from an existential viewpoint, but it's clearly the lowest common denominator that attracts advertising dollars. Then there is the example of HBO. I've long been a fan of HBO - and The Wire, which starts a new season soon, is among the best TeeVee ever - but I think the era of more and more material grotesque has got to come to an end. This was literalized in Six Feet Under, but was also apparent in things like HBO's Rome and OZ; now they are advertising an autopsy show. I think it's time for a little romantic comedy.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
This new Scroobius Pip has a cynical and humorous take on media, music, and consumer culture that expresses the spirit of the original poem.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Overheard from BB. On watching Mythbusters: "They blow things up." On the functionality of his anti-gravity machine (built with tape, baskets, and miscellaneous objects): "I just need a catapult." He's been on a real star wars kick over the holiday break. But he still refuses to watch a movie. It's all about the lore. Maybe it will make him a good archeologist or anthropologist.
LB showed me a toy school bus today. He babbled for a few seconds, then waved bye-bye. He was telling me the story of seeing BB off on the bus. He babbles in conversational ways, but there are few actual words that we can understand.