Friday, July 31, 2015

Excellent Letter Received From Relative At Camp

Crisp penmanship, creative word choice -- an all-round pleasure to receive.

I suppose I am jealous that my kids didn't go to sleep-away camp this year.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dangling Greenpeacers Usher Me In To Modern Age Of Media

Cathedral Park was the center of operations for the Greenpeace activists.

Today despite the crushing heat I took a bike ride to the St. Johns bridge to see the flotilla of kayactivists and dangling protesters. They were trying to prevent the icebreaker Fennica from heading down the river and up to Alaska to help explore for oil.

I showed up and marveled at how the climbers could pass gear and supplies to one another and that this was their second day up in the air. The temperature peaked at 103 degrees and as I watched the sun felt like a blast furnace.

What I found particularly exciting was that even though I was physically at this event and could see some of the activity, I could also stream the live TV feed on my phone and see the bridge, climbers, and kayakers from the view of the circling helicopter.

Screen shot from my phone.

I was also able to check Twitter and read reports from hundreds of people concerned about the event seconds after they wrote them. Sure, plenty of stupid comments, but also the observations of serious people and real journalists as well.

And, of course, all the dangling activists had smart phones, too, one giving a Facetime video interview about her set up. A kayactivist shared comments from the water.

My mind brought me back to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. I don't equate the importance of these two events, but the vast difference in how media worked then and now stands out. In 1995 I had been at the square where he was shot. I was at the back and didn't know what had happened until a few hours later when a friend called me.

I then turned on the TV. All the cable networks and the Israeli television had the same video feed and all the same clips kept recycling. Pundits and celebrities drifted in and out of the picture while I phoned friends and family to process what happened.

Today at the park there was the news helicopter, three local news trucks with reporters and cameramen, a quad-copter drone, and half a dozen citizens with fancy gear on tripods all loading video footage into the on-line universe. Hundreds of people had phones and were taking pictures and reacting to events in real-time.

The flow of information, images, and media noise was overwhelming and exhilarating.

I rode back and when I got home I again checked the torrent of information to learn that the police and coastguard had cleared out the kayakers and a few of the climbers had come down, creating a gap for the ship to sail through

A valiant stand! The message was delivered loud and clear.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Greenpeace Climbers Suspend Themselves From Bridge For Awesome Social Action

I snapped this with my phone earlier today. Portaledges, line networks, kayak support -- is this how to get things done?

The kids were impressed with the resolve of the Greenpeace protesters suspending themselves from the St. Johns Bridge to prevent a Shell icebreaker from leaving Portland for the Arctic on an oil-drilling missing.

My activism consists of endless meetings and emails chains so long as to boggle any mind.

I had about five minutes of envy for the climbers sitting on the end of their ropes in the morning sun -- the view from their roosts looked spectacular and serene. When I reflected that the temperature would reach near 100 and the protesters would most likely be there several days my envy turned to the thought that I wasn't a climber and such stunts are for the young.

I did read on Twitter that the import of this event was that it brought climbers and kayakers together (two warring tribes?).

Those floating in the water were "kayakactivists" while the climbers suffered lack of a cool tag.

To those suspended from the St. Johns Bridge I salute you!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Zombie Camp Proving Fun For Our Survivalist Kids

A promotional photo from Trackers Portland for their Zombie Ranger day camp.
Both kids are doing zombie camp this week. From the promotional material:

Join the elite instructors of the Trackers Rangers Guild: Special Zombie Unit for awesome survival training in preparation for the zombie apocalypse. They teach you the skills vital for your survival in this brave new world of the undead.

Archery and Zombie Combat Long distance bows are silent, versatile and way cool. We train at local archery ranges to develop keen aim and focus. And we use safe foam arrows in live action stealth games.

Wilderness Survival Learn the art of outdoor survival so you can guide and protect your village beyond the city and into the safety of the wilderness. Make a smokeless fire, safely harvest wild edible plants and build invisible shelters the zombies will never find. Also plan your Bug Out Bag. Gain the experience to not only to survive, but thrive.

Stealth and Invisibility How do you move through the shadows unseen? What is the perfect camouflage to disguise your scent from the zombies? What are best strategies when you are going on the offensive and planning a zombie ambush? Our expert Rangers Guild instructors teach you their arts of stealth and evasion in order to evade the zombie hordes. 

The camp teaches outdoor skills in the 2015 context of zombie apocalypse. I'm all for this.

Needless to say, when the kids come home they often are in another world.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Rock `N' Roll Camp For Girls - The Banana

We are so proud of our rockin' banana.
The daughter once again participated in Portland's Rock `N' Roll Camp For Girls and had an excellent time. Her band, Failing At Victory, performed their song, "Our Bananager (band manager)  Made Us Change the Name of This So We Wouldn’t Get Yelled At.”

The video:

Lyrics to“ "Our Bananager Made Us Change the Name of This So We Wouldn’t Get Yelled At:”

You have all these stupid rules about things that don’t affect you
For instance, why do you care about the color of my hair?
And the lengths of my skirts, your disapproval really hurts,
Or the sex of my date who you already hate,

And with all your ignorance just try to keep your distance,
You believe the earth isn’t warning because where you are it’s snowing,
And feminazis aren’t real you need to get a new deal,
You confuse my fight for rights with Jewish genocide

I’m done with being part of your machine
Society can’t judge me on who I want to be
I know who I am and that’s ok
I’ll come out I’m not afraid

You want me to apologize for not being the norm,
 I hate to burst your bubble, that’s not my form
Why is it that I never get to hold your gun, wait I know it’s ‘cause I’m not your son
What is hiding in your closet, a shallow personality the size of girl’s pockets
You don’t want me being good at too many things, Mr. More Than One Wedding Ring
I’m always too skinny or too fat like I’m some pretty thing for you to look at
I’m not self-centered, I’m confident don’t demean me because I’m competent
I think I’ve got a new solution, it’s my turn now for revolution

Here’s a list of things I hate
One of them is fruit cakes
Unnecessary cannibalism is not cool
If you do these things I pity you fool
Sexism, Racism, Ableism, Bigotry,
People who come and just take selfies
You don’t look alike and yet you’re “twinsies”
Your cutting in line is hella not fine
And grape flavoring just ain’t worth savoring
Weird adults, creepy cults, your lame mind games and uneducated insults
Little kids and when your bike skids
Stop talking so loud your hashtag’s in the cloud
The Holocaust did happen it’s the reason why we’re rappin’
Also… Periods


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kid Photoshops Selfie Yet Again

M.T. Freezer rides again!
I will study the semiotics of this and get back to you. I suspect the meaning is multi-faceted.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Happy Accident: A Hairstyle Is Born

The kid woke up thrilled he had hair horns. He then proceeded to sing Sympathy for the Devil and dance like a young Mick Jagger. All good.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Kids Try Slurpee For First Time Then Wonder What The Fuss Was About

A Slurpee is a slushy frozen carbonated beverage sold at 7-Eleven stores.
This summer we could stand it no longer, time to teach the kids what the hell a Slurpee was all about.

Actually we didn't create much drama around the event.

Hot weather and the feeling that a mildly indulgent treat was in order prompted the excursion to the 7-Eleven store.

One child was quoted as saying, "Woo," in a deadpan tone.

Still, no Slurpee liquid was wasted.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Kids Finally Ask Me About Something I Actually Know

My mother's 1950s era Rolleiflex.
Unbeknownst to me the son was given an opportunity to buy a book and he chose one about the history of photography. I found him online looking at vintage cameras. He was excited he could purchase an old-timey camera for a modest amount.

Little did he know I had inherited two iconic cameras from the golden age of lots-of-futzing photography.

I had the pleasure of showing him my mom's old Rolleiflex and explaining how it worked, why the image in the viewfinder was upside down, why two lenses.

I also showed him my dad's old Leica, explaining what a rangefinder was and how this early camera became the design model for generations of 35mm cameras.

Despite my bohemian pretensions and veneration for these old-school classics, I am not in the fancy-camera game anymore. I have a micro four thirds, interchangeable lens digital camera but generally use the camera most often at hand -- my phone.

I wish I could be more artsy and make some argument against digital photography. The sheer fun of being able to click away and see the results instantly is just too much joy. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Kids Continue To Occupy Parental Bed But Now With No Pretense Of Concealment

Unlike in the past when kids tried to covertly occupy the bed, now they flagrantly move in, daring anyone to try and stop them.

I still have some moves left, like playing the "old and cranky" card, whereby I'm able to convince them to make room for the wobbly old guy.

At the recent Portdaddia conference, a place where academics and serious amateurs shared theories, the argument that the kids gravitated toward the parental bed to enjoy the strident commentary made by the parents in response to NPR was put to rest.

New approaches posit that the kids are drawn to the bed because they are suffering the effects of "continental drift" or have been struck by a "cosmic ray."  Researchers continue to look into this phenomenon.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Family Fears Of Backward Hat-wearing Unwarranted

All members of my immediate family grow agitated and concerned if I wear a ball cap backwards, even if I'm just illustrating a point.

The above diagram was designed to further clarify the correct way to wear a ball cap.

Hope this puts to rest rumors of a mid-life rap craze. Yo!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Minions Entertaining But Fail At Semblance Of Gender Equality

An artist created a Wonder Woman Minion -- this character was not in the recent film.

As many of you guessed, we saw the “Minions” movie this weekend. All of us found the movie good entertainment with a few laughs and rich production.

But when we returned home, the females in the family began to raise some concerns with the mass-marketed studio film.

Perhaps the single most obvious complaint for those concerned with gender equality was that the Minions were all boys. All of them. In the teeming masses of Miniondom, not one was female in any recognizable way.

Underscoring this, the heroes of the film were named Stuart, Kevin, and Bob.

Further creating negativity, the supervillain antagonist, Scarlett Overkill, wears a dress and stilettos. She wants the Minions to steal the crown from the Queen of England so she can be a princess, and thus receive the love she craves.

The movie was set in 1968 but that did little to mitigate the frustration felt by the family that this film was dominated by gender stereotyping. Other than Scarlett Overkill there were hardly any other female characters, servants, guards, narrators, other villains, were all men. 

Most of the ideas in this post were aggregated (plagiarized) from a Reel Girl post. For more analysis from the source click here.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Movie Marketing Invades Breakfast -- Minions

Bananas are a favorite food of the movie franchise characters "the Minions."
The marketing mavens of "The Minions" found me in my hazy morning funk when I picked up a banana. I suppose I should be happy there is a movie tie-in on a healthful piece of fruit.

I wasn't inclined to see this movie, even though I enthusiastically take my kids to animated films, until I learned that a pressing journalistic question was "Are the Minions Latino?"

The NPR show Latino USA took on this question for a delightful piece that explained why there is so much Spanish in the invented language of the Minions and why the characters resonates so strongly with Latino audiences.

To the first question, the co-director Pierre Coffin took a bunch of take-out menus home and from the word list expressively used food items for the Minion language; Coffin finding Spanish a lyrical popular language.

The answer why Minions resonate with Latinos was more elusive. In general, movie-going stats support a huge demographic of Latinas seeing a large number of movies. In the NPR piece, Latino USA producer Antonia Cereijido posits semi-seriously that Minions come to the USA by boat, speak a different language, and want to work in people's homes.

I realize sometimes cultural phenomena should just be enjoyed rather than analyzed.

One detail from the Latino USA piece that I particularly enjoyed was that in a rural area of Guatemala, where few popular-culture items are found, Minion scarves, coin purses and jewelry were available.

The bananas I purchased come from Guatemala, coincidence?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

This Is What Being A Parent Looks Like (Text Messages)

For those who are not parents, or are parents of a different generation, the question most often asked of me, a parent, is "What's it like?"

I could talk about the impossibility of removing children from the parental bed, the cult worship of dessert, or perhaps the proper technique to invert a reasonably sized child.

The best window a person can have on what parenting is like in 2015 is to view a snippet of text messages. The above is a fine example of a modern child's concern for tasty food, cracking wise, and technology.

The 13-year-old daughter just read this post over my shoulder and has approved this message with the caveat that she be identified as the author of the above text. Sobeit.