Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Charlie Brown's Long Road To Insanity

In all the excitement of running around looking after my youngins, I forgot that this week is the anniversary of the first Peanuts strip. Please enjoy. I also include a classic sociopathic Lucy for your pleasure. Or hers, at least.

Hearing this, Charlie Brown begins plotting his vengeance.

"No seriously, sister. You need treatment."

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mega-Narrative Versus Crocosaurus

"I have references! Rawr!"
I love a lot of things about my kids. But one of the most amazing things about them is their ability to take elements that are supposed to be scripted (like movies and toys and such) and take them wildly off script. It is endlessly entertaining. Almost every day I need to stop whatever I am doing just to listen to the craziest story ever told. These stories frequently involve the same cast of characters. Crocosaurus, Crack-Bear, and Commander Taviri are a part of the core group. Other bit players come in and out, including Rainbow Baby and Bluke. The kids take turns being "in charge" of certain characters, and each kid can have a very different take on the backstory. It gets confusing.

I realize this takes a little explaining. (Especially Crack-Bear. I totally take the blame for that.) So let me do a little Dramatis Personae for you.

Crocosaurus is a crocodile toy, given to us years ago by a good friend. He is frequently involved with fighting bad guys and protecting others. He also watches babies. He's kind of a reptilian nanny beast. He's meaner when Arkaedi is in charge of him.

Crack-Bear is the bad guy. He was named after an unfortunate slip of the tongue by Papa. The bear had just shown up out of nowhere when we were living in a sketchy neighborhood, and I had no idea where he had wandered in from... so I told the kids that they could have the crack bear if I washed it. Viri of course named him Crack-Bear immediately, and my careless talk had created a nemesis for every other toy. Viri frequently tries to reform him, and make him good. According to Arkaedi, however, he should be sent away. That girl has no compassion.

Commander Taviri is the space faring warrior alter-ego of Taviri. He has a magic watch, a super ship, and many hundreds of powers and gadgets. He's basically a Silver Age Superman, he can do anything until the narrative requires a challenge.

In addition to these core stories, there are hundreds of little variants. Many of these are cars and trucks who need cared for or helped. Rainbow Baby is a stock car who frequently runs into trouble and needs to be saved. Bluke is another car in peril. (A "blue car," hence Bluke. Arkaedi was proud of that one.) The cars names are a source of contention for the kids. Arkaedi is a fan of pun based names, or colorful ones. So there is a Cocoa, a Mac...

I wish I could convey the endless variety that these games take. It's astounding. It's like a scene from Toy Story if Andy were simultaneously channeling every science fiction image, fairy story, and PBS cartoon ever made. It's wonderful.

I still feel a little bad about Crack-Bear. He's an okay guy, he just has a problem. If Commander Taviri spent less time fighting Evil and more time building planetary treatment facilities...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Occupy Away!

Old Jaded Jack
The whole occupation of Wall Street thing is making me sad. It reminds me of my age, my anger levels, and my own inability to have any faith anymore that people can turn things around.

Not that I believe that they can't, either. That would almost be easier. Nihilism would be a welcome escape, and escape is one option that I never choose. It's just that I no longer have the passionate belief that people will create a better society that I once had. I'm not sure where exactly that belief went; but I'd like it back.

Jack Kerouac became a bitter old man rather quickly after becoming famous. He avoided or rejected many of his old friends, and took to drinking and spouting conservative rhetoric instead of traveling and writing. Everything that fueled his earlier creative impulses seemed lost. He chose the escapist route. Or perhaps he just fell into it. Alcohol chose it for him.

I'm not that person. I'm not jaded. I'm still essentially a positive person. But my positivity has become focused. Instead of the broad, sweeping romanticism of my youth it's a scalpel of positive energy. I'm positive about my daily interactions. I'm enthusiastic about individuals in a way that the jaded Jacks of the world don't seem to be.

To cite an example: As I was walking through the store today, my mind was on a series of frustrations. I was angry and sad. And a woman cut me off, pulling her cart in front of me and stopping in confusion. She was an old woman, and I smiled at her. As much as the world in general was bothering me, I had nothing but affection for the face of this old woman standing in front of me. In a broad sense, I was upset at humanity. But this specific woman, how could I be mad at her? She was just an old lady trying to get her Sunday shopping done.

That's how I feel about the protests. I'm irritated by their futility, in the grand scheme. But you, individual protester- when I see your photo, I smile. I like you. I can't extrapolate that feeling to the broad movement, or our future as a species. But I can hope you turn out okay. I hope I don't become too jaded for that.