August 28, 2008

What sound does a squirrel make?

Actually, that is not precisely my question, as I have heard a great number of squirrels make a great deal of noise. Just yesterday, Elliot and I had a long conversation of sorts with a squirrel on our back porch, who was mad at us because we wouldn't leave and allow him to dig up my flower boxes in peace. It is our dialogue with him that provokes my question, which really is something more like, "how would you transcibe the noises that a squirrel makes? What is the correct squirrel onomatopeia?"

I think they actually make three noises. They do a "tcktcktcktck" thing which reminds me of the cartoon Riki-Tiki-Tavi; while they do this one they often wriggle, like they're doing a squirrel-version of the dolphin kick, that also seems rather mongoose-ish to me. Also, they kind of growl. That's easy, like "grrrrr" but really low. But then, the screeching sound they make? How would you transcribe that? Like, "ReH! ReH! REE!" Is that it?

It's funny that squirrels aren't really in our cultural repetoire of "animal noises." Farms and safari trips seem to have the lock on animal noises, while your average urban dweller is excluded. But I think we need to remedy this gap, because after dogs and cats squirrels are the animals Elliot interacts with most often.

In other news: it is Kate Mann's birthday! Happy Derbay Kate Mann! Elliot is excited to sing to you tonight! And! It is my parent's THIRTY-EIGHTH wedding anniversary! That is a lot of years, people. Let me take this public forum to say: thank you so much, mama and papa, for being such great examples of how to make a happy, sustaining family. Elliot and I are both forever forever grateful.

August 22, 2008

Just fyi

if you are interested in seeing a little video featuring some HAPPY HAPPY SPLASHING ELLIOT, you can do so right here.

August 20, 2008


Sarah made an observation I think is spot-on: if there's one thing that has an incredible, almost unseemly power over the child's mind, it is the Brand.

The Brand is a pattern -- a personality -- waiting to be recognized & come alive in different guises, in different media, on shoes and buses and food boxes and videos and toys. You can put the Brand in your mouth or on your head or in your pocket or on your feet.

What Elliot wants is to connect dots. He wants to recognize patterns and bring his world into focus. That is one of his most acute needs and we see him working on this project daily.

What Brands are is dots waiting to be connected. I think of them as ikons -- in the old religious sense. They have power!

Fortunately, I trust the Pixar people with this power. I think I like Wall-E almost more than Elliot does. (But Elliot gets to wear the Wall-E shoes.)

August 08, 2008

brief update, with documentation

So lately I've been trying to teach Elliot to say, "I'm volatile!" Because all of a sudden, Elliot is kind of volatile. Brandon says that, despite my obvious hilarity, I'm not really doing Elliot any favors here and should probably instead teach him to say something useful and communicative, like, "I'm frustrated!"

I agree to a point, except I'd say that what's new and interesting for Elliot these days isn't frustration, which is old news, but volatility--that is, being really loud and pissed in the face of frustration. We hear, "aaaAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!" noises around here a lot more than we used to. I think it is a taste of two-dom to come. We'll see.

So, there's the volatility--that's real, that's something that's going on. But mostly, you guys, our life could be a big documentary called "why toddlers are awesome," or, "why it's worth it to have children," or, "you too can live on sesame street." Elliot is so chatty and fun right now, and he just goes around petting zoos and block parties and backyards befriending people left and right.

Like here's one story--a couple of weekends ago we were at this sidewalk restaurant thing (with TJ; hi TJ!) and Elliot kept wandering over to the doorway of the neighboring store, a place called "His Stuff" which sells fancy gay men overpriced t-shirts and jeans (basically). Elliot was attracted to the music wafting from open door, some club beat, "uhChaUhChaUhCha," etc. He stood there in the doorway dancing for a while, before he looked down and noticed that several leaves and some dirt had blown into the doorway. "Dirty," he assessed. So he came back to the table, grabbed his broom (we had just purchased it, but now we do often take it with us in case of emergency sweeping needs) and started sweeping the entryway. "I cleaning!" he said, still shaking his wee booty. The staff should there bewildered for a while--what do you do at the fancy gay man store when a toddler decides you're not keeping the place clean?--before reaching the obvious conclusion that they should start dancing too, which they did.

I mean, really! I don't even know what to tell you. And it's not just Elliot, it's all of his peers, too, it's this magical not-quite-two time. It's like he's in his own toddler movie, a new genre closely related to the musical comedy, or like he's a very young mary poppins or something. He runs fast, he talks about cows and garbage cans, he dances on the beach.

August 04, 2008

Are you looking for something to read?

No, I know, you're not. You're eagerly awaiting the new Twilight novel, out tomorrow. But, okay, when you are done with that (say, Thursday) you will be ready for some new weekend reading.

Might I suggest this children's fantasy novel, also out tomorrow, written by my friend Marie?

Marie and I went to college together, where we had many many adventures, and talked about many many books, and have recently gotten in touch again after many many years. While I have not yet read this new book, this book that Marie has written, here's what I can say to recommend it: Marie is hella smart; Marie has an accute eye for small magical details; Marie crafts deliberately and with love; Marie writes from the heart and always has. So I think this book is worth recommending even apart from the friend connection.

The other reason to read it now is that I suspect, I suspect, that this book and its sequels (FSG is putting the next one out next summer) are going to be...big news. This is just my guess. But wouldn't that be great? If the Kronos chronicles turns into the next Harry Potter, and you get to be all, "I read it when?" Won't that be fun?

And, if you buy it, you'll get to see the pretty real cover, not that nasty bitmapped thing I seem to have pasted in.

Most awesome photo in the history of the world

There's a whole backstory of city summer fantasticness to this photo, which we will perhaps document later, but I just had to post this right now because THE WORLD SHOULD NOT WAIT for the chance to see this photo, this brilliant photo, of my son nudely and with terrific focus serenading the world with a randomly acquired hot pink guitar.

Breakfast of Champeens

This morning Elliot had a little tantrum for ten or fifteen minutes (because we didn't let him go to the basement), which was finally concluded by rummaging around in the cupboard (angrily) and discovering some jars of baby food (disappointing). My suggestion that he might like to eat the baby food seemed to change the mood. And that is why, for breakfast today, Elliot had pureed turkey sweet potato dinner over a year old.