Saturday, July 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Dan! Chicken Bomb

Elliot is one of the most thoughtful 6-year old gift givers. He really thinks about the other person and he's often right on. Tools for Michael. Tea for Mom. A necklace for Britta. A monkey for Asher. A rubber chicken for Dad. For his dad's birthday he decided that a "chicken bomb" (and a dragon t-shirt) were what Dad needed.

According to Elliot, a chicken bomb is a "sweet gummy candy, it's actually healthy with nutrients and full of vitamins and minerals, with lots of calcium, and chicken hands and chicken feet on the ball." Where can you get a chicken bomb? Not at the usual toy stores, but they have them at Fred Meyer.

I did a search for chicken bomb and there is a book called The Milk Chicken Bomb by Andew Wedderburn about a troubled ten year old boy in Alberta Canada.

Pirate Camp

Ahoy! Here are Liam and Elliot in full pirate regalia. They spent the first week of July at the Dragonfire Pirate Camp on Vashon Island and did all sorts of piratey stuff.

The first day they tore up Elliot's clothes into pirate rags and as the week progressed, the rags became absolutely filthy with dirt, sand and mud. Each child was assigned a daily station -- lookout tower, cooks galley (Elliot had to make salads for the kids), sword making, looking for buried treasure (in a half buried ship). If you ask Elliot about the best part of summer so far he says, Wild Waves and pirate camp, Arrr, the best camp e'er!

Ye'll ne'er get me buried booty!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

William Steig - Psychology of Children

One of my favorite children's book authors is William Steig. After reading Sylvester and the Magic Pebble to Elliot several times, I realized how soothing the language felt to me compared to other children's books. His sentences are spare and crisp but ornamented with eccentric and complicated words like "perplexed" and "discombobulated." His stories are direct and darkly humorous; intuitive but strange at the same time. They're psychologically rich and his insights are unexpected.

Because his tone is so matter of fact and lacks condescension or smirky irony or cutesiness, it feels intimate in a way children's books rarely do, "You can imagine the scene that followed - the embraces, the kisses, the questions, the answers, the loving looks and the fond exclamations." In all of the books we've read, the characters are in danger at some point, but they adapt, survive and remain optimistic. They map to a child's sense of wonder, fears of a strange world, struggle for self reliance. His books reinforce survival and seeking out well being. Very healthy. Although he married four times.

I thought it was interesting that his parents who were working class raised him with socialist bohemian values, they felt business was unethical exploiting and to be an exploited worker wasn't shrewd. So they produced offspring who were artistic and self reliant. And Steig advised his own three children never to take a nine to five job.

Here is Steig talking about summer in Publishers Weekly:
The summer is not a time for art activity or anything related. The summer is for lemonade, flowers, walking barefoot by the ocean, lying on lawns, deck chairs, on hammocks, on porches, listening to birds and crickets and bull-frogs.

From his 1970 Caldecott Award Acceptance Speech for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

I am well aware not only of the importance of children -- whom we naturally cherish and who we also embody our hopes for the future -- but also of the importance of what we provide for them in the way of art; and I realize that we are competing with a lot of other cultural influences, some of which beguile them in false directions.

Art, including juvenile literature, has the power to make any spot on earth the living center of the universe, and unlike science, which often gives us the illusion of understanding things we really do not understand, it helps us to know life in a way that still keeps before us the mystery of things. It enhances the sense of wonder. And wonder is respect for life. Art also stimulates the adventurousness and the playfulness that keep us moving in a lively way and that lead us to useful discovery.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ice Cream

On our trip to Harrison Hot Springs in British Columbia, we dared to give Asher blue bubble gum ice cream in a cone instead of in a cup (just like Elliot). Oh, messy fun. Not really. He was distressed about the melting blue stickiness that ended up all over his body. A hot day, soft ice cream. Poor guy. I doubt he'll complain if we give him ice cream in a cup again.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pancake Mountain

I just found out about Pancake Mountain, an all ages music show on cable TV in Washington DC and NYC where they have "dance parties" similar to American Bandstand or Soul Train, but the music is punk rock/indie and kids are under 10. From their site:

Pancake Mountain aims to bring back what got us passionate about music. We want to be able to tear down the barriers that make music pretentious and boring. We enjoy seeing the artist interact with their audience. We like to have fun, we love new music, and we need an excuse to act really silly and call it our job.

Metric - Monster Hospital

The Evens - Vowel Movements

Deerhoof - Spirit Ditties of No Tone

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Family Health History Tree

The US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Surgeon General just launched My Family Health Portrait.

Seems like a good idea. The skeptic in me thinks it sounds like big brother is watching.

Americans know that family history is important to health. A recent survey found that 96 percent of Americans believe that knowing their family history is important. Yet, the same survey found that only one-third of Americans have ever tried to gather and write down their family's health history.

Health care professionals have known for a long time that common diseases - heart disease, cancer, and diabetes - and even rare diseases - like hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia - can run in families. If one generation of a family has high blood pressure, it is not unusual for the next generation to have similarly high blood pressure. Tracing the illnesses suffered by your parents, grandparents, and other blood relatives can help your doctor predict the disorders to which you may be at risk and take action to keep you and your family healthy.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Music From Turkey

We saw an interesting documentary about contemporary Turkish music/culture called Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul by Fatih Akin (who also directed the amazing Head-On) and I became inspired to find out more about Turkish music. To know a place you must know its music. Istanbul is a mix of modern and ancient, east and west. Their music is an interesting mix of traditional folk, electronica, 60s roots rock, hip hop punk and psychedelia.

Siya Siyabend, the street band in this video are fun to watch they're passionate idealists, talking about how music is the biggest toy of all. How music brings together the guy with the laptop and junkie on the street.

It sounds like Steve Malkmus was inspired by this song, it's very similar to Baby C'mon.
Özdemir Erdoğan