Henry meets Two-Eyes the Pirate Turtle.

One day Henry and Mr. Pickles the Flying Carpet Horse were playing down by the beach when they heard the sounds of someone crying behind a rock.  They went to see what was going on and found a turtle dressed as a pirate.

"Why are you crying," asked Henry.

"People make fun of me because I'm not a real pirate," said the turtle.  "I don't have any booty and look at this," he said as he lifted his eye patch.  "I've even got two eyes.  I don't really need this eye-patch but if I don't wear it I'll just look like a turtle in a silly hat.  Everyone at the yacht club calls me 'Two-Eyes' and makes fun of me."

Henry felt very sad for Two-Eyes and came up with a great idea.  The two of them rode Mr. Pickles home and headed straight for his aquarium.

"I happen to know that at the deepest, darkest corner of this aquarium lives The Happy Clam who has been working hard at making a pearl," said Henry.  "If you get that, you will have definitely committed an act of piracy and no one at the yacht club should make fun of you any more since you'll have some booty."

"But," said Mr. Pickles nervously.  "Isn't it more complicated than that?  Aren't there... guardians?"

"That's true," said Henry.  "But we shouldn't have any problems with them."

So Henry, Mr. Pickles and Two-Eyes jumped into the aquarium and started swimming to the bottom.

The first guardian they came to was the Crinkle Crab.  He had laid down crinkly paper all along the bottom of the aquarium so that if anyone stepped on it, it would wake up The Happy Clam and he would close his mouth so tight no one would ever be able to get his pearl.

Luckily Henry and his friends realized they were in water and weightless so they swam over Crinkle Crab and his crinkly paper without making a sound.

The next guardian was The Clown Fish.  When he swam up to everyone he started to make such funny faces and sounds that Henry was laughing so much that Mr. Pickles and Two-Eyes thought they'd never get past him.  Finally Mr. Pickles put himself between the two of them so that Henry wouldn't be distracted by The Clown Fish's funny faces and he and Two-Eyes were able to swim deeper into the aquarium.

Then came the third guardian, Jingle the Star Fish who was always playing bells.  Henry realized that someone would have to stay behind to occupy Jingle so he decided to because he had a maraca and knew a little piano that his mother had taught him.

While he and jingle worked on a song, Two-Eyes swam into the deepest, darkest corner of the aquarium where The Happy Clam lived.

But there was a problem.

"I can't see," said Two-Eyes.  "My eyes haven't adjusted to the light and if I don't find The Happy Clam soon, it'll realize someone is committing an act of piracy and close it's mouth forever."

Then Henry remembered something his Uncle Mark had said and sang out while playing the maraca & piano with Jingle,

"Move, move, move your patch,
Gently to your other eye,
Your night vision will have been protected
And The Happy Clam's pearl you'll espy."

So Two-Eyes moved the patch to the other eye and discovered that his night vision had, in fact, been protected.  He saw The Happy Clam and was able to swipe her pearl before she knew what was what.

Then he, Henry and Mr. Pickles swam out of the aquarium (But not before Henry had another good laugh at The Clown Fishes funny faces and sounds.) and got back on dry land.

"Thank you! Thank you!" Said Two-Eyes.  "Now I really am a pirate and no one at the yacht club will make fun of me.  I've also learned that it's okay to be a pirate with two eyes.  From now on I'll never be ashamed of my handicap."

"No problem," said Henry who waved goodbye to Two-Eyes and rode home on Mr. Pickles so that he could chew on some slices of organic apple.


Baby Books Made Me Dumb

The human body has two oft overlooked yet incredibly vital organs.  As we enter this new technological age of instant information, I find that these particular ones are being used less and less.  Baby books in particular are culprits in this deadening.  The organs I'm talking about are, of course, your brain and your eyes.

Thinking, according to tradition, has generally been considered quite an important aspect in the survival of most living species.  The ability to "look" is one that humans have evolved to rely upon quite heavily.  When paired together (e.g., "Look"ing at something and then thinking about what you're seeing) great things can occur.  The pairing of these functions has led to many important developments including the invention of the wheel, cartesian mathematics, and the TV series Peep Show.

Over the past couple of months I've discovered that by using baby books (and in particular those by the so-called Baby Whisperer), you are effectively removing your brain and your eyes from the parenting equation.

All baby books seem to contain the same caveat (..."All babies are unique so what is contained may not apply"...) and reassurance (..."But this will help you fulfil little Julie's fullest potential to be the next Sarah Palin"...) but none address the bloody obvious in that if the information contained therein is just a hodgepodge of advice some of which will work, some of which won't, some of which will work 32% of the time, some which will work 50% of the time 47% of the time, etc., you've got just as much chance of getting a useful piece of parenting advice by reading American Psycho and you do reading Why Toddlers Toddle: The Toddling Years.

They also encourage you ignore the signals your baby gives you (While reassuring you they'll teach you these self same ones) by looking to their charts, developing your routines (Not schedules.  Schedules BAD!) and watching your babies movements in a manner to be slotted into their programme which may or may not be applicable at this particular time.

Which brings me to the whole point of this marginally thought out rant (Is there any other kind?): Thanks to The Baby Whisperer, when Henry came home, every time he would cry or freak out, I would turn to her book and try to match up what his actions were to her chart:

Flailing arms: Overtired.  Kicking: Hungry.  Uncoordinated kicking: Overtired.  Flailing arms & kicking: Over stimulated.  One arm flailing, one leg kicking counter-clockwise: Needs a change of scenery.  Head rotated 180 degrees &amp & vomiting: Possessed.

The point being that the book wants you to pay so much attention to it that you're no longer paying attention to your baby.  You're not picking up it's individual cues.  Or using such wacky things like your eyes and brain to simply observe, assess & respond.

Which, on the grand scheme of things, get us by on a day to day basis.  It's why I don't regularly get hit by cars while crossing the street or go to work with my dirty underwear on my head.  It's not that hard.  We all do it.  The problem is that if people realize this then they won't need to buy these books and people who are adept at making up acronyms don't make 7.5 million dollars.

Next time: Oh, lets go for... a review of some sort.


Book Review

MEDIUM RAW by Anthony Bourdain

A funny thought occurred to me about half way through Medium Raw: 'What's the point?'  As a memoir Bourdain is all over the place.  As a meditation on foodie culture, Bourdain is so involved in it, he doesn't feel the need to to explain exactly who Emeril, Otto, Sandra or Ms. Kitty are.  There's an assumption that you've read Kitchen Confidential, followed his shows and read his articles that borderlines on utter arrogance.

And then there's the question as to who his target audience is.  Readers of his previous book?  Yes.  Obsessives about his TV show?  Yes.  Someone interested in food?  Well, not really.  His book is like that joke:

Q: How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: It's an obscure number you probably haven't heard of.

Much like Christopher Hitchen's God is Not Great, Medium Raw is written by a fascinating person: Engaging, intelligent, someone whose presence exudes gravitas and who is able to argue his point home with a tenacity that cannot help but to polarize.  But, like God is Not Great, I was left wondering what exactly the point was, other than to provide a few crates of ammunition for the converted.  Anyone questioning, curious or, God forbid, out of the loop is not invited to the dinner party.

That said, I really enjoyed the book.  It was engaging, interesting and rife with unrealized potential.  If, perhaps, the goal was to convert others through tantalizing hors d'oeuvres, then perhaps he's succeeded.  I for one will be filling in the Bourdain shaped hole in my life.

They also made a movie about the book but, based on the trailer, looks like they took some liberties:

The moral of the story: If you're a vegetarian you're probably a racist who hates humanity.


How Henry Got a Magical Carrot

One day Henry and Mr. Pickles the Flying Carpet Horse noticed Miranda Bunny in the garden looking unhappy.

“What’s wrong,” asked Henry.  “You look so sad.”

“This garden is mostly paved,” said Miranda Bunny. “And there is only a very small plot of dirt and those horrible, horrible raccoons keep coming around at night eating everything I plant.  If they keep it up, I shall have to go hungry this Winter.”

“That’s terrible,” said Mr. Pickles.

“What I really need,” said Miranda Bunny, “are some magical greens that could grow me enough food and scare off those horrible, horrible raccoons.”

Henry had an idea.

Later on, he rode Mr. Pickles to the Valuemart and asked the staff if they had and magical greens.  But they didn’t.  And all they could afford were three fiddleheads which had fallen on the ground and gotten run over by a shopping cart.

“Somehow,” suggested Mr. Pickles, “I don’t think those fiddlehead greens have much magic in them.”

But Henry had another idea.

After they had flown home, Henry got out his paints and he and Mr. Pickles painted the magic into the greens.

Henry painted his fiddlehead with orange and blue tiger stripes.

Mr. Pickles painted his fiddlehead yellow with pink and red polka dots.

They had run out of paint for the third fiddlehead so they covered it in glue and rolled it in sawdust.

Miranda Bunny was ecstatic when they presented the magical greens to her.  She was so happy that she gave them each a magical carrot that would improve their eyesight so much that they would be able to see through things.  Right away she planted the fiddleheads.

“But are they magical?” asked Mr. Pickles nervously.

“I sure hope so!” said Henry.

And they were.  From the tiger stripped fiddlehead grew more fiddleheads with orange and blue tiger stripes.  From the polka dotted fiddlehead grew yellow fiddleheads with pink and red polka dots.  But for some reason there were always way more pink polka dots than red.

And from the fiddlehead covered in sawdust grew a vine from which neatly sanded and water resistant planks hung.

Naturally, the horrible, horrible raccoons didn’t know what to make of these strange plants and went back to eating garbage.  Miranda Bunny was able to save up enough food to get her through the winter and all future winters.  She used the planks to make a really great hutch with a bay window and a turret.

Next time: Why Anthony Bourdain is to food as Christopher Hitchens is to God.


Why Babies Should Listen to Math Rock

First of all, I hate the term 'math rock.'  It's almost as pretentious as it's purveyors socio-political messaging. Except for screamo which, for some reason according to Wikipedia, is considered a math rock subsidiary.  Screamo is the pro-choice movement's ace in the hole.  If any lifer ever wanted proof positive as to why late term abortion should be legal, this should be enough to shut them up and agree that late, late term abortion (somewhere around the fifteenth or sixteenth year of life.) is to generous to those date rapists.

But I digress...

Math rock, and by this I mean good math rock (e.g., pretentious math rock [e.g., music I like]) is this generation's answer to classical music with it's shunning of the traditional verse-chorus-verse pattern of pop music, embrace of a wide range of instrumentation & freedom to have as many or as few lyrics as possible.

Toys 'R' Us would have you believe that the best way to turn Baby Generic into Baby Einstein would be to plonk him down and play tinny, pre-recorded snippets of the classics through a 10 cent speaker made in China by the hands of a little orphan girl not much older than your baby.  To coin an old punk phrase, this is a bold plan drawn up by assholes to screw morons.  How on earth is little Jiminy Cricket going to be the next Stephen Hawking by not having a debilitating genetic birth defect listening to the opening bars of the Lone Ranger's theme song William Tell Overture?

I don't want to disagree with the collective wisdom on the packaging of my son's toys.  I agree that musical appreciation is an inherently important part of the development of a child's brain and what they listen to as children will become an inherent part of their appreciation of music as they grow older.  Case in point was my genuine excitement when my father-in-law showed up over the holidays with A Canadian Brass Christmas CD.  But really, people need to start using those oft overlooked skills of 'thinking' and 'not being dumb and/or lazy.'

The more time I spend around Henry, the more I realize that there is very little difference between a baby and someone who is stoned.  They're really into snacks, doing stuff is a bitch and being spaced out to music and flashing patterns of light is kinda the way to go.

Math rock is gentle (at first), builds to crescendos and creates a mood at a steady pace that, by and large (I'm making some pretty sweeping generalizations about a fairly broad style, here.) builds upon itself making it's changes that are not abrupt and won't freak a baby out.  It's can be playful, serious, intense, relaxing, all that can reflect the mood of a baby.  Much the same way that classical music can be.

It's also a hell of a lot more palatable for people like myself who for years thought Schubert was a water-based version of ice cream.  It also opens the baby to different styles of music and gives it a broad range of sounds to refine as it grows older and develops tastes that are, hopefully, much cooler than your own.

Next time: Why babies are smart & parents are dumb.


2011: The year we make blog

Whoops.  It looks like I fell off the blogger bandwagon after Henry got born.  This years resolution will be to blog more.  Like -blog-a-day blog more.  And since it's already the second and I didn't post anything yesterday and I've already broken my resolution, I feel confident this this endeavour will be a really big success.

I suppose I've also got to fess us a little and admit that a contributing factor to the ol' bandwagon fall off was that I tempted fate a little too much with my flippancy with regard to Henry's birth and the complications that ensued.  This soured me a bit to the whole project as online flippancy suits me and with the sudden and unexpected onset of seriousness, I decided to avoid things.  And then I got lazy.  And now I'm just sort of feeling like I should but I don't want to so maybe I should try.

(Writing like a teenage girl also suits me.)

So that's what I'm going to do.

Of course, I've got nothing to say today (Always a good start) other than abstract moaning about going back to work tomorrow and how tedious it's going to be to wake up to the sound of my alarm clock and work out for the first time in 3 weeks.  Except that's not so much abstract moaning as it is bloody specific moaning.

It's also the kind of bloggy navel gazing that I intend to avoid.

Next Time: What I think about baby books.