Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Coco Tuesday

Guess who got a little package from his auntie in the mail. Big score, of course. And he's being ogled at the pool a lot.

I told you the Spidey thing is getting out of hand.

yay, photos

Sure, the faces are cute. But what lurks beneath...

The manipulator, btw. is the one who's posing. But you knew that.

... when he was a baby we called his output "The Diapers of Dorian Gray."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Faulkner gush

I'm reading my first Faulkner novel, As I Lay Dying. I figured it's about time.
This is good stuff. Part fable, part insanity. Not much for plot, but I just got done with Harry Potter 7, so I'm good on plot for a while. Maybe that's the secret. Read some Dickens or Dumas or Rowling (I wonder when people will start referring to her instead of her main creation) first and then some Faulkner.
Anyway, a bit I really enjoyed:

It begins to rain. The first harsh, sparse, swift drops rush through the leaves and across the ground in a long sigh, as though of relief from intolerable suspense.

Read it aloud. Can't you just hear the rain beginning? From the right pen, all words (almost: forget it, to, the, and...) are onomatopoetic.

Same chapter:

And since sleep is is-not and rain and wind are was, it is not.

Hee-hee. Take that, J.K.Rowling.

Madge Monday

I need to start taking my voice recorder with me again. I know I had something but now it's gone.

Ah, unrelated, but: I saw a barbershop in the neighborhood with a sign in the window that reads,
"We specialize in all styles."

(A little unclear on the verb, methinks.)

Oh, verbs and other parts of speech: Madge is into Madlibs now. But we don't have a car or lengthy trips, so we do them around the house. Fun, but not really a game for the whole family. A) because Coco can't play, B) because they tend to be funnier when you use borderline crass words. Which Madge can't spell yet.

We also had a sleepover playdate this weekend. Quite a bit of work, but these things alwasy give refreshing insights into how well our kids are doing in much of their social and intellectual development. (Which is to say that Madge's friend is quite a princess.)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Other kids are cute, too

Our upstairs neighbors are getting a puppy soon.
Their kid - age 3 - chose the name "Noodles Popsicle."
The breeder told them there are no males available, so they'll be getting a girl.
So the kid said the name had to be changed. Clearly, Noodles Popsicle is a boy's name.
The new name?
Roxy Popsicle.
Awesome, isn't it?
Sounds like a drag queen. And his/her hit song is the sultry "Melts in Your Mouth."
Or some such. "I'm Only Frigid Till the Wrapper Comes Off."
Other suggestions welcome.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Coco update

We had another good visit with the neurologist.
Knock on wood, but it seems we're just visiting every six months to check in and chat.
And bribe the kids with toys - which, I still maintain, ought to be covered by the insurance.
After all, some doctors I've spoken to recommend bribery.

On the sign by the elevator, somewhere under Coco's neurologist, it humbly says "Oliver Sacks, M.D." And Julie and I went, "Oh." Of course he has to work somewhere.
So now I've requested one of his books from the library. NYC can be so awesome, sometimes.

Tomorrow: Pedal Boats in Prospect Park. Woohoo!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I occasionally nose around in Roger Sutton’s blog. Who knows, someday I might read about something I wrote there?
Anyway, he’s been commenting on Harry Potter madness, as he should, being of the publishing world.
this post he links to an op-ed in the NYTimes.
Sutton highlights this quote: "Our obsession with spoilers has a diminishing effect, reducing popular criticism to a kind of glorified consumer reporting and the audience to babies."
Here are two more: “And as you can see from my first memory of the cinema [being ten and shouting at the audience not to worry because E.T. isn’t dead], which was also my first act of criticism, I’m not above ruining an ending for others.”
And, the one that I find more pertinent than the one Sutton highlights: “People outraged by spoilers should avoid all reviews before going to the movies or reading the book they’ve waited so long for, because the fact is all criticism spoils, no matter how scrupulous.”
See, I’m not sure I know anymore what criticism is or does. The first quote I chose seems to indicate that the author of the op-ed piece, Nathan Lee, isn’t too sure either – unless it is an act of criticism to reassure the audience.
The second quote gets more to my general issue with this discussion. What’s the point of reviewing (A) the seventh book of an interrelated series and (B) Harry-Freaking-Potter of which everyone has already formed some opinion or other. All a decent review of the book could really say is, “Yep, she stays true to form,” or “Mmm. This one wasn’t up to snuff.” But even if it wasn’t up to snuff, would you, as a critic, expect someone who’s stuck with the first sixth to abandon the last one because of what you wrote?
The only point to a critique of HP7 I can see is to snag some of that immense HP readership for your publication.
But again to that last quote. Papa likes. “All criticism spoils.” Of course it does. It examines the work of art as work first, art second.

Coco Tuesday

It has taken a while, but Spiderman has now replaced Barbie in my list of despised brands.
Madge's birthday took us to the toystore several times and every time I had the privilege of waiting while Coco drooled over every variant of with web, without web, with motorcycle, on foot, mask on, mask off... only to end by telling him, "No, I told you, we're not getting any Spiderman stuff." Only to start the process all over, of course.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Madge Monday

Madge was the first of us to finish the Harry Potter book. She finished it yesterday.
We (Julie) made her not tell anything. I just finished it today and must say that I'm very impressed with Madge's fairly stony-faced reading. She can't say the name of a store in our neighborhood (Nancy Nancy) without cracking up, but she only had a few gasps and oh-nos and yays while she was dealing with Harry and his friends and enemies.
We (that is, I) got two copies. One for Madge's birthday and another so we can coordinate reading it at the same time.
It's ironic that the only reason I've ever been out until two a.m. in New York City is a children's book.

Group Project

Madge and GrandJohn supplied the lines.
I merely assembled them here.

Can't wait
to be eight.

Then I'll whine
till I'm nine.

(Madge turned eight on Sunday. I have the feeling eight is going to be a great age.)

Friday, July 20, 2007


Busy day today. Swimming class, shopping, swimming, lunch, botanic garden, library, shopping, home.
And still Madge is cranky and nudgy. Partly because she's tired, but mostly because she's getting antsy about her birthday.
We'll see what happens the day after.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I need to figure out a better way to tell this story.
I related it to Julie this evening and she was fairly unimpressed.
See, today was filled with thunderstorms and we found out the hard way that the pool closes for an hour once they hear thunder. The hard way, in this case, is finally getting to the pool and hearing thunder right before stepping into the icy shower. The lead-up is what made it so difficult to stomach. But we survived. I even got a nap out of the deal because more Flintstones arrived via Netflix.
And we went swimming later that afternoon. In the rain.
And no, it is not "wetter underwater when you're there when it rains."
And yes, we got kicked out when the lifeguards heard thunder. But at least we got to be in the water for a little more than half an hour.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Coco Tuesday Bypassed

By a story too good to pass up.
We had friends over for game night. A family with twin girls Madge's age and a younger girl only slightly older than Coco.
When I was taking out my contacts after everyone had left, I saw some hair by the sink (and remembered an odd conversation between Emily and her mom in which Emily asked if the mom liked her curls). Madge and Julie were in the bedroom.
Me: Who cut her hair?
Madge: Emily.
Julie: How much did she cut?
Madge: Just enough to get your electric toothbrush out.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ludwig van Rowling

Here’s a comparison you can only take so far. But let’s see if I’m alone on this.
The first five Harry Potter books progress like Beethoven’s first five symphonies.
The first two don’t do that much for you, though they’re well-crafted. And, like Beethoven’s Second, the Chamber of Secrets hints at something larger with Tom Riddle’s past.
The third is where things really take off on a grander and darker scale.
The fourth is the most classical. Symphony, obviously. Book, a tournament with Harry as the dark horse.
And the fifth is the one that really kicks things off.
I was reminded of this comparison when we saw the movie this weekend and also remembered that I felt disappointed in the sixth book not because it wasn’t a good, adventurous read, which it was, but because it wasn’t as leisurely and pastoral as I had – for my own weird reasons – expected.
And the whole calculation will be off anyway, since the seventh book is the last. Will it be like Beethoven’s Ninth or Seventh? Both are great, so the answer doesn’t really matter.
But, since it supposedly has a surprise ending, it might be more like the Ninth. We’ll find out soon enough.

Madge Monday

Ah, Madge.
Today we got to go back to swim class after a weekend off. When we got there, she proclaimed that she didn’t want to do it. It makes her legs hurt.
He does make them kick an inordinate amount. But still. So I bullied her into it, though not happily. I think Wednesday will be better.
I hope.
Coco, of course, wanted to go in the water – since he doesn’t have to kick so much.
And don’t get me wrong, we still went swimming later in the day. It’s the class aspect that was difficult after the brief break.

And cutie-Madge is not a good one for surprises. So she keeps asking about birthday presents for her upcoming eighth. Hee, hee.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Unsex me now

Our weekend has been highly cultural. The park outside our building has summer events, and this year their Shakespeare production is Macbeth. Fair enough.
Teach this neighborhood of slackers a little something about ambition.
But, for those of you who may not know this, the park has a playground attached to it which stays active fairly late.
This involves a lot of shushing while the productions are under way.
It also means that the audience consists of people who find out about events there through bringing their children to the playground.
Which means that there were several audible gasps at some lines one might normally find merely over the top.
… I have given suck, and know
How tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me –
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn
As you have done to this.

I do not believe the “What to Expect” people, or even Dr. Spock with his “trust your instincts” approach, would approve.

International House of Movies

When we saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Pe- I mean Phoenix, there were, as so often, adults without accompanying children in the audience. Not that this is unusual, but at a matinee, alone, borders on sad.
So of course one of them struck up a conversation with us. She was sweet, though, well, a bit desperate for conversation. Still, open minds and all…
Turns out she’s a chef (found out via a Ratatouille conversation) and works in the diplomatic section of the UN. And, yes, creating menus is an act of diplomacy, there. Apparently each county gets featured for a week. (My question “You mean Luxemburg and China get a week each?” was met with a blank stare.) And the delegates seem to really enjoy having their country featured. Not because they’re looking forward to their native cuisine, but, in true “international” style, because they love telling everyone how it’s not quite right.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Follies: Greekin' Out

For example, putting Heraclitus in context, I think the first fragment comes from a story he was telling about the time his wife caught him in a hot tub with six nude underage Spartan cheerleaders. “Okay, so first I told her that she is the only one for me, and that she is the model of all womanhood – or boyhood, in the case of two of my “friends” – in my mind. And then I said:

(1) It is wise to hearken, not to me but to my word, and to confess that all things are one.

Adjectives that make you think

Do you ever catch yourself writing redundant adjectives, like "close proximity"?
Editing tip: if the opposite adjective doesn't make any sense, for example "far proximity," then your original adjective is unnecessary.
Unless you're making a poetic point. For example a couple poring over a crossword puzzle (see, I still have memories of times before children) is in close proximity, while a couple reading separate sections - one reading the Arts section while other reads the obits - may be in far proximity.

Anyway. This evening I walked by a hair salon on which the sign read:

Franchezka Unisex Human Hair.

I'm still trying to figure out the customer interaction they had that made them insert that extra word. Were people bringing in their draft horses?

Greekin' out

Okay, so I recently got through the Heraclitus bit (the Heraclitic section, heh, heh) in the Greek Reader (which sounds like an oxymoron, but there are literate Greeks around, I hear – Texan Reader, I wouldn’t be too sure.)
Heraclitus is the guy who said who can’t step in the same river twice. He wrote other goodies, too, but the writings are really fragments, I think, so they make for awkward reading at times. For example:
32. The sun is new every day.
33. (Thales foretold an eclipse.)
34. … the seasons that bring all things.
So of course I want to put them in context. All I need is time and brains.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

my met favorite

The tension!
Doesn't he look like he's about to spew a bunch of profanities?
The plaque said that it's the head of a piper or floutist - and I guess the body and instrument disappeared a while ago.
But I'm quite sure I like the sculpture much better like this.
Who knows, they may have had it all wrong and he might have been a Thracian garbage collector.
Also, I believe that this is the rock that Coco was wishing to throw into the reflecting pool. He's already holding his breath, after all.

It's Greek to me

I flutter from obsession to obsession.
Today, as in the picture of a few days ago, a butterfly landed on me. (Coco was jealous, but he does understand – luckily – that I am more capable of holding still and that, lately, I dress in brighter shades of gray and black than he does.)
This reminded me again of one of the many loose bits of knowledge I have. It’s something I’ve been thinking about since we visited the Met and it’s Greek statuary exhibit on the same day as a butterfly landed on me.
Apparently, the Greek word Psyche means breath and soul and all those related things. It also, in old Greek (as far I vaguely remember from a muddled source), means butterfly. And in the myth about Cupid and Psyche, he (the god of love, remember) gets careless and cuts himself on one of his own arrows while doing some task (not remembered, sorry) involving Psyche. He falls in love with her (spelled out, the god of love falls in love with the human soul) and finagles that she be granted immortality. Hence also the relation to the butterfly: fluttery, airy, and a visible manifestation of the concept of transformation.
So now I’m reading The Viking Portable Greek Reader which I purchased a long time ago because I was so impressed by the editor--who happens to be W.H. Auden--’s introduction.
(On this a note to all you published authors out there: Don’t slack on ANYTHING you put out there, you never know what bit of writing happens to be a reader’s introduction to the world of your mind. - I’d like to say that this was my introduction to Auden, but I’d heard of him before and then – the shame – checked out more of his writing after seeing Four Weddings and a Funeral.)
Anyway, my odd literary thoughts don’t stop here. In the past (not for a class), had also started Ovid’s Metamorphoses, but had given up because too many of the stories were about gods falling in lust with some human and the ensuing jealous rages of mortals and immortals.
Now. The other day I got to thinking how it’s cute that in their world gods and humans are in such jealous proximity of each other. Much different from other conceptions of a single god and mortals – or, even, of more primary Greek gods, Zeus’ et al.’s progenitors, and humans. These squabbles and jealousies are like high school, where the most animosity is between proximal grades, while the extremes hardly acknowledge one another.
And then, through some fortuitous leap, I thought of the world of Jane Austen and how the social stratifications. Not that Colin Firth – I mean Fitzwilliam Darcy – is Cupid, but there is that aspect of the sacred commingling with the profane for each other’s mutual benefit.
Discuss in 750 words or less. Use footnotes.


It has to be said:
I have the cutest wife ever.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Creative, I guess

Okay, here's what happened.
Madge grabbed the extra-thick sunscreen and applied it, liberally, to my back. My back started itching and I asked her to scratch it. She noticed that she could write with her fingernails and I figured the longer she wrote, the longer I'd get my back scratched.
Fair enough.
Then I wanted to see what she wrote, but the mirror was no help, so she told me.
In case you can't read it, it's my name followed by the words "butt party."
I just hope she doesn't decide to Google those words
or it'll be like the time at the SFMOMA when she insisted we go through the photography exhibit, entitled "Sex Workers of Asia."
Ah, good times.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Coco Tuesday

Coco's swim class today. More mixed crowd. If I were to generalize, I might say that the change in ethnic makeup in this neighborhood is fairly recent.
But that's totally wrong. It's more of an economic thing. The east coast, after all, is camp central. Parents send kids to camps, day, pony, swim, fat, shop, or panhandle camp. We're just doing camp dad instead, which right now seems to be a modified version of swim camp.

His recent cute things he says are, "I KNOW dat," and, "I hate dat."
And, at bedtime tonight, "I hate nos."

Don't we all.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Madge Monday

The swimming pool seems to know my blogging schedule. Madge's swim class is on Monday (and Wednesday and Friday), Coco's on Tuesday (and Thursday). (Our weeks fill up quickly.) Unfortunately for us, Coco wasn't too understanding of this arrangement and cried through most of her first session.
She did great. This time around swim class might be a winner.
And to Julie, Madge said tonight, "I'm the only peach person there."
(She goes by crayon designations.)

Sunday, July 08, 2007


There is a fountain in the new Greek and Roman sculpture hall of the Met where the following conversation (more or less) was overheard.

"Hey, Madge, what did you wish for?"

"I'm not going to say because then it might not come true."


"What did you wish for, Coco?"

"A rock."

(Meant, of course, was, "A rock to throw in here instead of the measly nickel my dad gave me.")

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Shock and Awwww

Same day, different combinations, but basically the same feeling.
Some friends of ours from the Bay Area met us on the Upper East Side for breakfast and we finally got to see their new baby (new to us, about six months old to them) up close. Such a cutie. But then again, the whole family's adorable.
Since we were already in Manhattan, we followed it up with a visit to the Met and the Central Park Zoo, where I met my winged friend.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

helpful movie review

Last night I watched The Good Shepherd.
Very informative. For example, before I watched the movie, I didn't know that it was three hours long.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Coco Tuesday

I have no idea how much he understood of the game itself, but Coco sure caught on to the ballpark experience. He knew exactly where the cotton candy was, figured out what kinds of goodies you can snag, and ran away when they were singing "God Bless America."

"Too loud," apparently.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Madge Monday

Madge at our first Yankee's game.

It was a busy day: birthday party in Brooklyn, game in Bronx. All in all, about two and a half or three hours on the subway that day.

But we survived, thanks to fun events.

And Madge had some books along, so she could tune out when she needed to.